Fox in Charge of the Hen House
Employee Insurance Committee Named
By: Pat Hunter
It looks like perhaps County Mayor Doyle Arp was looking out after his own health insurance interests when he stacked the deck into examining the county employee health insurance plan. Mayor Arp suggested appointing all elected officials and his two hand picked appointees and two commissioners to look into the insurance matter. Unfortunately, the County Mayor didn't seem interested in being fair to the taxpayers. If the Mayor had the best interest of taxpayers in mind, he would have also recommended appointing some taxpayers and business people to the group that could try to be more objective and offer balance to the slightly biased group.
Interestingly, at the last county commission meeting, some commissioners actually griped out loud at the very thought of the suggestion of naming a Board of Education (BOE) representative and/or BOE employee to the committee.
Many BOE employees are uncertified employees, not teachers, that do not receive the same level of health care benefits as teachers or most county employees working for Loudon County government. It would have been nice to have heard their viewpoints, too. These are the same employees that perform vital work and are the backbone to our schools, the rank and file employees that prepare meals for our students, the secretaries and assistants that perform work vital to the operation of the public education system. What about their voice to issues about soaring heath insurance and how more out-of-pocket expenses affect their pay checks or other related health insurance issues? But most commissioners just dismissed that idea without another passing thought.
Loudon County taxpayers presently fund ninety percent (90%) of an employees health insurance benefits. Taxpayers pay $900 and a county employee pays about $100 est. Many years ago, the County paid 75% and employees match was about 25%. But over the years it changed without documentation and some officials have discussed looking for records but not finding minutes or votes as to when this change took place.
Commissioner Nancy Marcus suggested shifting the cost from taxpayers to employees and to do it slowly so employees would not be hurt by the change to coincide with yearly pay raises to offset those increases. Marcus's efforts were met with vocal opposition.
Members of the Insurance Committee are County Mayor Doyle Arp, Dana Zehner, Commissioner D-1 Nancy Marcus, D-2 Commissioner Shirley Reno, Assessor Chuck Jenkins, Trustee Estelle Herron, Clerk and Master Fred Chaney, Circuit Court Clerk Lisa Niles, Court Clerk Riley Wampler, Road Superintendent Sean Giles, Sheriff Guider, Register of Deeds Tracie Littleton, and the Honorable William Russell, General Sessions Judge.
The first insurance committee meeting was suddenly scheduled and then cancelled without adequate public notice.