BWC issues rebates

Staff Writer
Representatives from the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) visited Wapakoneta Monday to alert Auglaize and neighboring counties of rebate checks that will start coming in the mail to businesses and municipalities paying into the system.
BWC Commerce Director Bill Teets and BWC Administrator and CEO Steve Buehrer presented a symbolic $30 million check to Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dan Graf at Miller’s Textiles that will be dispersed to private businesses and public entities, such as school boards, city councils, and other elected groups that are required to pay into the fund. The funds will be divided among Allen, Hancock, Putnam, Hardin and Van Wert counties as well as Auglaize.
“We assume a 4 percent margin in the fund, and it had grew about $8.3 billion above that mark,” Buehrer said. “The rebate started going out last week and they going out in groups of 40,000 checks per day every other day.
Buehrer said there were approximately 180,000 checks total to go out.
Buehrer said Gov. John Kasich is spreading the word about the rebates since a large portion of the checks went uncashed the last time rebates were sent out.
“We want to make sure business owners and other entities are not throwing away the checks by mistake,” Buehrer said.
Auglaize County businesses and local governments will see approximately $4.4 million of the money. Eligible employers will receive back approximately 56 percent of their 2011 premium to reinvest however they please.
Miller’s Textiles intends to use the funds for employee development and additional safety training, Miller’s Textile President Robert Hager said.
The city of Wapakoneta is to receive a rebate of $81,080, while Wapakoneta City Schools is to receive $42,800.
The village of Cridersville is in line to receive $3,850, while the village of Waynesfield is set to receive $2,010.
For example, the Waynesfield-Goshen School Board spent approximately $15,000 in premiums in 2011 and will receive $8,360 of that amount back when its check arrives.
“The best thing is there is no restriction on how the money is spent,” Buehrer said.
Buehrer said the BWC is hoping the refunds will have a positive effect by making a big impact on job growth or increasing safety training for all employers.
“It’s a win-win for all involved,” Buehrer said.
It addition, employers across the state will see a 2 percent base rate on future worker’s compensation payments, the product of a $224 million premium cut in premiums prior to Kasich’s election. The plan, named the BWC Billion Back Plan, should infuse $1 billion back into Ohio’s economy through the rebates.
In addition, the plan should help employers incorporate better safety measures for employees by tripling the amount of safety grants distributed annually from $5 million to $15 million. Grants will now be given out at a 3-to-1 match as compared to the 2-to-1 match previously used. Also, employers will now pay looking forward as premiums will be collected ahead of time. Previously, they had been collected in after the coverage.
“We were the only type of insurance operating that way in the state,” Buehrer said. “We wanted to get in line with other insurance agencies and how they conducted business.”
Buehrer said with the new program, BWC premiums are the lowest they have been in Ohio in the past 30 years.