By Cory L. Higgs
The Patrick County Board of Supervisors appropriated $300,000 for the county’s Health Insurance Fund at their Aug. 12 meeting, after County Administrator Tom Rose expressed concerns that August will be a high use month.
Rose said that the fund was at approximately $62,000. He explained that July was a “high expense” month, with more than $400,000 spent for county employee’s health costs. He anticipates August will be the same, however, Rose said there is no definite way to know how much money will be spent until the bills are received.
He also anticipates an incurred billing report will remove the guesswork of reviewing payment history for the previous month to gauge a budget outlook, Rose said and explained that “now we kinda have to use a crystal ball, we have to look at previous history and make some assumptions.”
Rose said the report would eliminate guesswork and show what the county owes. He will present the incurred report to the board in September.
Meanwhile, Rose said he and his team believe that they will not use the $300,000 in its entirety, but would feel more comfortable having it available, in case it is needed.
Lock Boyce, of the Mayo River District, explained that the county self-insures employees, and pays expenses up to a certain amount. The county’s insurance kicks in for expenses that exceed that amount. The amount was not disclosed at the meeting.
Boyce questioned why the appropriation was needed “right now. Can’t we wait until September” when the report will be presented. It will provide actual expenses, not estimates.
Boyce said he was not comfortable with the funds being stockpiled for the insurance fund, and that he would prefer to transfer the funds as they are needed. He said he believed that the approximate $62,000 remaining in the fund should tide the county over, barring a catastrophic need. If that happened, he said the board could reconvene and appropriate funds as needed. He also proposed a lessor amount be appropriated.
Rickie Fulcher, chairperson, and of the Peters Creek District, said the money is not segregated based on its use; the funds would remain in an account where they would continue to collect interest and be available for other county use. Fulcher added the appropriation would only allow Rose and his team access to the funds should they need them.
The board unanimously appropriated the total requested by Rose.
In other matters:
*Steve Terry, chairman of the Broadband Committee, told the board that committee received several “high quality proposals” in return for its Request For Proposals. RiverStreet Networks was selected as the recommended partner for the county. The company is part of the Wilkes Communications Coop, a community oriented company which offers scholarship programs, coordinates food drives and otherwise invests in the communities it serves. If the partnership moves forward, Terry said he is hopeful the company will establish a training program in Patrick County.
*The board received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Patrick County Developmental Center, which is celebrating 40 years of service to the county.
*Discussed the Transient Occupancy Tax;
*Heard a report from Lisa Price Hughes, resident engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDoT).