County commissioners continue to ponder the upcoming fiscal year budget as June 30 looms ahead. Among the headaches revealed at Monday night’s workshop are increases in insurance premiums for the county’s liability and workman’s compensation coverage.

Rusty Orick, chairman of the commission’s Insurance Committee, reported that while employee health insurance premiums are actually coming in slightly below projections that is not the case for the county’s other coverage through the Local Government Insurance Pool.

“We budgeted a nine percent increase for employee health insurance and the actual increase will be eight percent,” Orick told the commission, adding, “Insurance keeps climbing and we have no control over it. A lot of that is due to Obamacare.”

“Our workman’s comp quote is up eight percent through E. E. Hill. Nobody else gave us a quote because we’ve got problems,” Orick stated. “In addition, our liability insurance has increased 12 percent and we received no bids from anybody else.”

The total increase in premiums for liability and workman’s compensation for 2018-19 will be $1,155,206, an increased cost to taxpayers of $137,025.

Ironically, worker compensation and liability premiums for the board of education tell a much different story. Workers compensation actually decreased by over $6,000 from the current year, while liability only increased by less that one percent. Overall, the school system will pay around $3,000 less in the upcoming year.

Some legal costs to the county are not covered by the county’s insurance. That is the case in the lawsuit between the county and K. Carrender Company over the commission’s decision to refuse payment for additional work under a change order on the Walnut Mountain water project.

Among other topics to come before the county commission next Monday night will be a proposed increase in rental for hangar rental at the Campbell County Airport. Before the commission workshop Monday night, the Airport Committee voted to approve a rate increase requested by Airport Manager Bert Loupe.

“The FAA requires us to be as self-sustaining as possible,” Loupe pointed out. “We have had no rate change in rental of T-hangars for seven years while costs continue to climb.”

Loupe proposed a rental increase to take effect immediately from $220/month to $255/month, with an automatic escalation clause to increase rates by three percent automatically every three years.

The committee unanimously endorsed the proposal to go before the full commission for approval.

“Hopefully you will reach a point when there will be no cost to the county to operate the airport,” Loupe told the committee.

Commissioners will also vote on closure of a quarter mile-long alley in Newcomb that separates eight homes. Ralph Davis brought the request up, saying he has been approached by “homeowners wishing to close the alley.”

On Monday before the regular monthly meeting, a meeting of commissioners interested in being part of a special committee to work with drug court and medical practitioners on the county’s opioid epidemic. That meeting will be held at 5 pm, with a beer board meeting at 5:30 pm before the commission meeting begins at 6 p.m.

Davis also suggested that “Stop Bullying” T-shirts, possibly in honor of late school board member Mike Orick, be produced for a planned “Stop Bullying Night” recognition in August at movie night at Lonas Young Park.

The anti-bullying night is being planned after Issac Jones, a student at Caryville Elementary School, appeared before the commission last month to urge an anti-bullying campaign. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED 6/15/18 6AM)