Health insurance costs increased by around $1.2 million for the local Glynn County government in the last year, according to finance personnel.
About $800,000 of the $1.2 million overage went to health care, and the remaining is related to prescriptions, interim Chief Financial Officer Tamara Munson explained to the county’s finance committee at a Tuesday meeting. Committee members voted unanimously to recommend the Glynn County Commission pay the overage.
The county government is self-insured, which is the reason why the health care price tag is bound to fluctuate year-to-year, Munson said.
“It really just depends on what types of health issues employees have throughout the year,” Munson said.
She speculated a portion of the spike could be attributed to COVID-19, but ultimately the county just takes a “stab in the dark” at the beginning of the fiscal year as to how much it might end up paying in health care.
“We just cover those health care costs as they come in,” Munson said. “We’re not paying premiums, we’re paying costs as they’re incurred.”
Glynn County Commissioner David O’Quinn, one of the committee members, asked what the county was doing to limit fluctuations.
A cost-share shift and introduction of an international drug plan for higher-cost drugs will hopefully reduce the price of prescriptions over the next year, county HR Manager Orah Reed said.
The lion’s share of the increase was probably drive by claims associated with cancer, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, she said.
“In some years, you have high-dollar claims, which we did last year,” Reed said. “That impacted our stop-loss coverage … the stop-loss premiums increased because we had such high-dollar claims.”
Munson said it’s a nationwide problem.
“This is not isolated to Glynn County, all governments are struggling with health care costs,” Munson said.
Glynn County manager, Alan Ours said the local government has been proactive about working with its health insurance broker. He noted the increase by percentage was lower than that of the South Georgia region as a whole.
“We are trending below, and I think that’s an important factor,” Ours said.
County commissioners Allen Booker, Bill Brunson and O’Quinn voted to recommend the full commission to pay the expense.
The committee also voted to recommend delaying the effective date of new short-term rental regulations while the county outsources the administrative side of a new ordinance.
“It’s going to be a complex new ordinance to administer, and all along we’ve been talking about outside third-party outsourcing of the administrative issue,” commissioner Peter Murphy, the most vocal proponent of the regulations, told The News on Monday. “It’s a little complicated to be done in-house.”
Interim IT Director Debra Bragdon informed the committee via memo that whichever company the county hires should be able to “collect data on the extent of non-compliance issues, address identification, provide a web portal for applying and renewing short-term rental certificates, (collect) taxes and maintain a 24-hour hotline to take in short-term rental complaints” in addition to monitoring and enforcement.
Further, she said Tuesday the company should be able to provide a dashboard to access various pieces of information and provide documentation of non- compliance to the courts if necessary.
“We’re seeking a specialized company who has already created these programs, that would definitely reduce the time to get this implemented,” Bragdon said.
Ours said the new regulations should draw enough revenue to cover the services.
Committee members unanimously recommended the county delay the effective date and begin searching for a contractor.
In other business, the committee recommended:
• Spending $9,250 to create a dog park around Kings Park and expand a dog park in North Glynn Recreational Complex.
• Paying the Pond Co. $11,200 for 18 title searches associated with an overhaul of the Altama Connector and Golden Isles Parkway intersection and commercial corridor roadway.
• Deferring to the county’s personnel committee a proposed contract with Nationwide Retirement Solutions to manage the county’s new pension plan.
The Glynn County Commission will consider approving all items at a future meeting.