The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

County Board Debates, Changes Insurance Carrier

BY: Mark Cox, Courtesy of The Journal Pilot

The Hancock County Board voted to change providers for their property and casualties, workman's compensation, liability and other miscellaneous insurance coverages at the November regular meeting.

After a lively, and sometimes heated discussion, the board passed the insurance change by a 9-4 vote at the board meeting on Tuesday night, November 20, at 6:30 p.m. in the county board room in the courthouse.

Insurance bids were submitted by representatives to the Finance, Fees and Salaries Committee by CIRMA (the current provider), Bliss McKnight, and ICRMT. ICRMT's bid was the lowest by approximately $33,000.

Rachel Mast, Hancock County State's Attorney, and Scott Bentzinger, Hancock County Sheriff, expressed concerns and frustrations when dealing with the current insurance provider, CIRMA.

Member Tom Scheetz, chairman of the Building, Grounds and Insurance committee, expressed concern with rejecting CIRMA's bid after working with them for many years.

While the lowest cost was a significant factor in choosing ICRMT, it was also conveyed that much needed services are included. As an example, Bentzinger expressed a need for procedural guidance that ICRMT offers.

"I've already reached out to ICRMT with questions over the last couple of weeks, and they have stepped in to provide answers," shared Mast. "I have not had that experience with CIRMA."

Scheetz and Finney identified the biggest concern with the proposed change was that it was done outside of the normal committee process. However, after much discussion, Scheetz conceded that he did indeed encourage the Finance, Fees and Salaries committee to explore the insurance question.

The second concern was with perceived bid and rebidding process, to ensure that all parties had equal opportunity. ICRMT representatives explained the discrepancies were a result of valuation for the courthouse.

To answer this valuation question, ICRMT offers a service for professional inspection and assessment.

In the end, Scheetz expressed appreciation to the Finance, Fees and Salaries committee for the hard work put in to evaluate the insurance bids.

In other business, the board approved the proposed Budget and Appropriations Ordinance for fiscal year 2018-2019.

Board members asked to review the proposed budget prior to voting, however there was an issue preparing copies for the board prior to the meeting.

County Clerk Kerry Asbridge explained to the board that the final budget was not submitted to his office for copies until just before 4 p.m. on the Friday before the meeting.

That did not leave enough time for the Clerk's office to review the budget, make copies and distribute to the board.

"I tend to agree with you, that isn't good enough," Asbridge stated, after member Steven Finney requested a copy to review prior to voting.

After voting to approve the budget by a 10-3 margin, there was some discussion about what caused the delays in finalizing the vote. In the end, some minor changes were made to correct line items and wording, but they were minor.

"I am not going to approve something that I didn't even see," explained Finney.

After the budget was approved, copies were made of the final document and copies provided to the board members. The Tax Levy Ordinance for a 4.6 percent increase over prior year was approved by a 13-0 vote.

Nathan Cobb, McDonough County public transportation director gave a quarterly update. The only shortfalls noted are due to delays in receiving state and federal funding. Cobb mentioned a stakeholder's meeting to be held Wednesday, December 5, at 10 a.m. in the Hancock County Health Dept.

"This will include representatives from the county that play some part, or that have clients that use the public transportation system," said Cobb.

Resolutions were then passed by the board to manage the grant agreements.

Committee reports were shared by the representative chairmen, and approved for submission to the record.

Consent agenda items were approved. Within the consent items were approval of $48,700 to survey and design the bridge over Baptist Creek, appropriate $600,000 for county highway maintenance and to appropriate $98,000 for the county engineer salary.