Taxpayers across the county will be watching their township trustee boards to see how they plan to handle the estimated 25% increase in health care costs for their employees and elected officials.

Recently Clark County Commissioners approved an increase in the out-of-pocket and co-pays for office visits following what is becoming a trend in sharing the costs of medical, dental and vision insurance benefits between employer and employee.

Commissioners approved that the employees would need to pay 10% of the premium costs for the coverage up from 8% last year. The county will also see an increase in costs for the plan selected. The increase to the county general fund is around 9% in the way of premium increases making the overall increase about 17% for 2016.

For townships, the increased costs may cause trustees to consider the need to have employees join in paying for the monthly premiums. Township boards and other governmental subdivisions have repeatedly complained about the reduced support of state funding that once boosted the general fund tax dollars. This leaves the local taxpayer funding more and more requests for levies to support law enforcement in townships as well as road repairs.

In Bethel Township the three trustees, the fiscal officer and two road employees take advantage of the insurance offered by the trustee board. They purchase their health insurance plans as part of the Ohio Public Entity Consortium. The township pays the insurance costs out of the general fund for 90% of the premium. The individuals who participate in the insurance plan are currently responsible for the remaining premium costs. Township Trustee David Phares explained that the increase for his township will be shared with the participants.

The Ohio Public Entity Consortium offers plans for a single are currently at around $625 per month, increasing to $712.59. Single plus one $1,200 per month will increase to $1,418 and for a family plan the premium is just over $1,800 now and will increase to $2,091.50 based on figures provided by Bethel Township.

In Mad River Township all three trustees participate in the premium free plan. The taxpayers are picking up the cost of the entire plan for two employees of the township as well. The cost per month for the three trustees is estimated at over $3,600 and the two employees at over $2,400.

With the annual current cost estimated at $73, 265. The 25% increase will cause the trustees in Mad River Township to take an additional $18,000 plus from the general fund bringing the yearly cost for 5 individuals and some family members to a whopping $91,580 plus.

Bethel Township Trustee Nancy Brown explained to our editor that she does plan to move to Medicare Part B for 2016 saving some funds for the township. “It won’t save us the cost of the increase, but it will help” said Brown.

As taxpayers in the community are seeing increased costs passed along for their own insurance premiums and co-pays they are speculating as to whether or not the township leaders will follow the example set by the county commission in re-evaluating how to save tax payer dollars.

The additional insurance premiums will undoubtedly impact on services provided by townships and could lead to a request for increase tax dollars as general fund monies dwindle.

Both Bethel Township and Mad River Township pay the health care costs of the deputies who are contracted to the townships from the Clark County Sheriff’s Department. In January of this year the Mad River Township trustee board approved increasing the levy for deputy coverage from .5 mills to .8 mills. The plan was tabled later in the spring with the hope to hold off the request until 2016.

The current levy which generates $83,136 per year for Mad River Township is already in the red by an estimated $21,000 plus. The township fiscal officer received permission to transfer $20,000 from the general fund in January to meet the contract costs.

With rising health care expenses seen across the governmental entities budgets, residents of Bethel and Mad River Township could see additional costs for their deputy services as well.

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