Wood County covers insurance cost increase

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners voted Monday to raise the percentage paid by the county for employee insurance coverage on family plans to help defray the additional expense for employees.

The cost to the county to cover the 84 affected employees will be about $20,000, officials said.

“It’s a nice thing to do for the employees, and it’s not costing the county that much,” said commission President Wayne Dunn.

Single insurance coverage for county employees is currently fully paid by the county.

“For each individual covered, there is now a fee to be paid to help cover research/uninsured individuals,” deputy clerk Mark Rhodes said. The additional fee is part of changes in the federal insurance plan. The additional cost for the single coverage on employees is being absorbed by the county, but those with family coverage would have been left to pay an additional cost, approximately $240 annually.

The county currently pays 69 percent of the family insurance coverage. The commissioners voted Monday to raise the percentage rate to 71.5 percent in order to cover the additional increased cost.

“As the cost goes up the cost for the employee goes up and this time it affected those on family insurance plans. So to help them out we can either increase the percentage we cover or increase their pay. We are still one of the few entities that pays 100 percent of single insurance coverage,” said Commissioner Blair Couch.

The commissioners are still discussing weighing a possible employee pay hike.

Wood County Clerk Jamie Six earlier told commissioners there was money in the budget from additional fee revenue to cover a $1,000 employee pay raise. The commissioners delayed a decision until more definitive year of the fiscal year budget numbers are available. The county’s budget year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Six said fees collected from documents related to increases in the oil and gas industry and additional documents required by the Division of Motor Vehicles have resulted in increased revenue from fees charged for those documents. The total for an across-the-board $1,000 raise would be about $180,644.

Commissioner Blair Couch noted there are salary differences existing between the offices for employees doing similar jobs, adding the new hire wage for different departments varies from $21,000-$22,000 to more than $29,000.

Couch said a breakdown of salaries showed about 15 employees at $22,000; 20 in the $22,000-$25,000 range, and 15 in the $25,000-$29,000 range.

“We have about 50 employees under the starting salary paid in the county clerk’s office. There are some offices that have several employees in the lower salary ranges. I’m interested in trying to raise the bottom up. I’d rather look long and hard at raising those on the bottom then giving an across-the-board raise, I’m not really interested in that. I think we need to give our lower salaried employees a raise,” Couch said.

“I think we would all agree we need to bring the lower end up,” Dunn said.

“I think we need to know what money we have before we spend it though. We also need to check years of service, but I’d still like to see us bring up the lowest salaries,” Couch said.

The commissioners decided to table the discussion to their next meeting which will be July 15.