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County insurance available, at full cost, to part-time employees

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night approved a motion to allow part-time employees the opportunity to purchase health insurance through the county, at 100 percent cost to the employee.
Commissioner George Ethridge said two years ago the board decided to eliminate county insurance for part-time elected officials (commissioners, councilpersons, surveyor and coroner) but language is in place to allow them to purchase insurance at no cost to the county.
‘The rationale was, part-time employees were not eligible for it (so) why would part-time politicians be eligible for it?’ Ethridge said. ‘I still feel the same; my mind has not been changed about that. I think what is fair is fair … The intent was to level the playing field. I also don’t have any reservations about allowing them (part-time employees) to purchase health insurance out of their own pocket, not the taxpayer’s pockets.’
Part-time employees who wish to pay for the county’s insurance would have to do so in advance by the 20th day of each month.
Depending on how many part-time employees elect to purchase the insurance, it will result in more work for the auditor’s office.
‘If they think insurance is important, they should be responsible enough to make that a point to get it in,’ Commissioner Kenny Saulman said.
Part-time employees only are allowed; contractors are not eligible.
‘We’ll treat them like everybody else, but they’re going to be paying for it out of their pocket,’ Ethridge said. ‘What we’re trying to do here is be fair and not treat the part-time employees any differently than the part-time elected officials. Just because you’re an elected official working part-time does not mean you’re of a special class. We don’t want the taxpayer to have to bear that burden. It just doesn’t make sense.’
Ethridge mentioned a poll question from (also published in the Oct. 14 print edition) that asked: ‘Do you think part-time elected officials should be able to get insurance through the county?’
Ninety-two percent of the voters answering said, ‘No.’
‘That’s a pretty clear statement,’ Ethridge said. ‘I think we’re on the right track here.’
The motion passed unanimously.
In other business, the board passed three additional appropriation requests to the county council: $26,000-plus for lift station enhancements in Milltown to avoid flooding issues (out of riverboat gaming funds); $5,000 for a salary shortfall in the part-time line for the veterans service office; and $13,000 out of CAGIT for inmate meals at the jail.
Engineer Kevin Russel reported the county is not likely, as was previously thought, to receive an Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources grant for a boat ramp at Morvin’s Landing, which the county now owns. He said a conference call with DNR officials revealed the problem is the proximity of the Brandenburg boat ramp. A similar situation occurred on the Illinois-Indiana border, and it was not supported by the grant program.
‘That was a disappointing way for the conference call to go,’ Russel said.
Saulman advised Russel and Rand Heazlitt, superintendent of the Harrison County Parks Dept., to seek help from District 70 State Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, as well as Harrison County Emergency Management Agency director Greg Reas.
Saulman said it’s possible grants are available through EMA.
‘Well, there sure ought to be, because getting over to Brandenburg is a chore,’ Ethridge said.
The commissioners’ next meeting will be Monday, Dec. 7, at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon. Harrison County Highway Dept. annual bids will be opened at that time.