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Upshur County Commission making changes for 2020

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes Commission president Terry Cutright is sworn in by county clerk Carol Smith at the Upshur County Commission’s first meeting of 2020.

BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission has several changes in its line of sight for 2020.

First, the commission selected Terry Cutright to be the commission president for the year. Cutright, who is beginning his last year of a full six-year term, also announced at the meeting he would be seeking re-election.

“I have enjoyed this job and couldn’t have asked for better people to work with,” he said.

As for the vision of the commission for 2020, it is currently explaining changes in insurance for employees that will save the county money while continuing to meet the needs of the employees and their families.

Cutright said, “We are looking at maybe changing the insurance. We have not decided yet but it looks like we could make a substantial savings for the county and still give the employees basically the same policy they had with a few other benefits. We are working on that right now.”

The commission will also finalize the next fiscal year budget in the coming months.

“We have the budget which is tricky every year,” he said. “It’s going to be tough this year because our revenues have not gone up and it is hard to fund everything. It doesn’t look like revenues will increase this year.”

The Upshur County Commission is considering a move back to PEIA from the self-funded insurance plan it currently uses through EBSO to curb rising insurance costs that cost the county over $2 million for this most recent year.

On Wednesday, the commission hosted a 2 hour and 15 minute special meeting for employees and elected officials to get questions answered.

Pete Thackston, USI senior vice president, presented available Public Employees Insurance Agency plan options and pointed to Plan C – the only plan which allows Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts. Elected officials are not eligible for HSAs but can use HRAs.

The new information for 2020-2021 is not available yet so Thackston gave information on the most recent year.

Under EBSO, the deductible was $500 for single and $1,000 for family coverage. The maximum out-of-pocket cost was $2,495 for single and $4,990 for family.

With plan C of PEIA, the deductible is $1,400 for single and $2,800 for family. The maximum out-of-pocket cost is $2,500 for single and $5,000 for family. However, the county will contribute $2,000 for single and $4,000 for family to the HSA/HRA account.

“One thing I am pleased about is what the county is going to do for all you employees,” he said referring to the county providing a set amount for HSAs and HRAs.

The employees can choose to add more money to their accounts themselves.

Commissioner Sam Nolte said that when the county first made the switch from PEIA to the self-insurance risk pool it made sense financially.

The first full year the county participated in 2012, the cost was $632,743.23. In 2013, that number went to $663,253.60. The following year that cost reduced to $592,132.56 but began trending up after that. The 2015 cost to the county was $712,928.95, 2016 went to $1,093,997.52, and 2018 was $1,187,736.58.

“We all know medical costs have gone through the roof,” Nolte said. “Honestly, we don’t have enough employees and enough people to spread out the risk to be self-insured. We need several hundred people involved in order to make it sync.”

The county has about 80 employees.

The insurance issue will be on a future agenda for consideration. On Thursday, the commission also voted to change the courthouse hours to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday with a half-hour paid lunch for employees effective Feb. 1.

Nolte said, “This is something that has been talked about amongst the offices for a couple years. I worried about the half-hour versus hour lunch, but a lot of folks said that was enough time.”