Health insurance rates going up for county employees

County employees will be paying 8.4 percent more for health insurance premiums for their dependents and family members next year.

Montezuma County Commissioners approved the new rates Monday, which will affect 230 county employees.

The county pays employees’ premiums, which are also going up 8.4 percent, from $621 to $673 per month. The monthly premium for one dependent is rising from $545 to $591, while the premium for a family is going from $814 to $882.

Commissioners decided to go with the no-deductible plan for the 13th consecutive year, County Finance Officer Amber Kingery said.

The health insurance premiums went up 3.7 percent this year, 7.3 percent in 2011, and 3.7 percent in 2010. County employees are also not slated to get any pay raise or cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2013, County Administrator Ashton Harrison said.

He will present a draft budget to the commissioners on Oct. 15 and a final budget on Nov. 19.

Harrison is recommending a salary freeze due to a pending $2.02 million tax appeal from Kinder Morgan (see related story).

Commissioners considered going with a $500 deductible plan that included a smaller 4-percent increase in health insurance premiums for dependents and family members, but decided against it because the employees will not be getting a pay raise or COLA.

In other news, Harrison and the commissioners discussed approving a policy that would require the commission to approve any purchase, service contract or construction contract of $5,000 or more. After the meeting, Harrison said this is generally his standard practice, but is interested in adopting a formal policy. He plans to present such a policy for formal adoption in the near future.

Commissioner Larrie Rule spoke in favor of such a policy.

Adopting such a policy would result in the commissioners knowing about such purchases beforehand, which would avoid a situation where they could be caught off-guard by a question from a member of the public, Rule said. He noted this has happened to him in the past.

In reference to construction projects specifically, “I know there’s been some issues with me and (son) Mickey being in business,” Rule said.

Such a policy “gives everyone a fair chance to do this kind of work because we have a lot of construction people around here,” he added.