W’field village seeks talks with Wapak agents

WAYNESFIELD — An issue over selecting new employee health benefits seemed to be finally settled only after a flurry of questions resulted in an Auglaize County village’s elected officials postponing the decision temporarily once again.
After a Waynesfield Village Council Finance Committee meeting earlier this month, committee members came to Monday’s council meeting ready to make a recommendation to switch insurance providers and go with a plan from Derryberry & Davis Insurance of Wapakoneta. According to the committee’s review of the new plan, employees would enjoy the same coverage they currently have at an 80/20 co-insurance level. The only difference in the plan was that employees would have a $1,600 cost per insured person a savings of approximately $400 per person compared to last year.
A medical expense reimbursement plan (MERP) would also be implemented. With the MERP plan, the employer has a pre-defined benefit limit. The MERP plan would only have employer contributions and the village would keep the funds if not used. According to information provided to the council from Derryberry, even if all people insured maxed out, the village would still save a minimum $6,191 per year.
However, after further review, councilors found what they felt may be discrepancies in the plan and wanted further clarification before approving the
To add to the concerns, Waynesfield Village Councilor Cheryl Jerew expressed a concern over what village employees are currently paying out of pocket for insurance coverage.
Jerew said employees are currently paying approximately 4 percent of their insurance premium, and she provided information showing other villages providing an average of 15 to 20 percent. While Waynesfield employees also still had eye and dental insurance, many of the other villages still did not.
“The economy isn’t getting any better,” Jerew said. “There are alot of tax dollars getting ate up by insurance premiums. I think there are alot of people who wouldn’t be happy if they knew alot of the 1 percent income tax is getting ate up by insurance benefits.”
Before discussion ended, Village Administrator Fred Rowe and Jerew exchanged words on the issue.
Jerew ultimately closed the conversation by telling Rowe, “I think you are trying to put words in my mouth and I don’t appreciate it.”
Councilor Chris Kaufman said he felt it was hard to justify raising the premiums.
“I think it is hard to justify raising the premiums when we lowered the costs (of the new plan),” Kaufman said.
However, all of the councilors agreed that further information was pertinent before making a final decision.
Councilors scheduled a special meeting for Aug. 25 at 7:30 to finalize the deal. At the meeting, they plan to have Jon Derryberry from Derryberry & Davis address questions to the plan.
In other business, Rowe told councilors that the village is now ready to explore the possibility of natural gas to village consumers. Rowe has been in communications with Vectron and said they are now in a position to take the next step of gathering data and cost analysis.
“I am very encouraged by this,” Rowe said. “I think this is something that could be essential to the quality of life for the people of the village when you consider the price of propane and electric.”
Rowe will continue to gather information on the possibilities and bring information to the council, he said.