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County prioritizes health care
Aug 17, 2013 | 1026 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tim Delaney photo
The Refugio County Airport will get a line item on the county's budget if plans go as discussed by the Refugio County Commissioners Court recently.
Tim Delaney photo The Refugio County Airport will get a line item on the county's budget if plans go as discussed by the Refugio County Commissioners Court recently.
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REFUGIO – In a split vote Tuesday morning, Aug. 13, the Refugio County Commissioners Court voted to approve a health care plan that will cost around $500,000 for the county’s employees.

Commissioner Gary Bourland asked about the $200,000-plus budget that the county airport will need.

Commissioners had discussed adding to the airport line item in its budget.

“Health care is primary for the county,” said County Judge Rene Mascorro.

He said health care for employees comes first and that a good health care plan would attract good employees.

And Mascorro said the Texas Association of Counties has the plan at minimal cost.

Kelly Kolodzey, representing TAC, outlined a median cost example.

She said having a pool of employees – in this case more than 46,000 members – can have more clout when negotiating on each county’s behalf.

Refugio County has 114 employees and would not be able to negotiate for better rates as TAC can do.

“The rates have stayed very much below private industry and national,” she said.

TAC’s rate is 5.85 percent.

She added that being in a pool also helps with bad claims that might wipe a small county out.

While 100 percent enrollment is desired, Kolodzev said the number of employees who initially join become the core group.

Employees would only be able to join during enrollment periods.

“You can’t jump in and out of the program,” Kolodzev said.

The plan would have a $25 co-pay and a specialist co-pay of $35.

The deductible would be $750. Covered at 80 percent, the maximum co-insurance would be $3,000, totalling $3,750 an employee might pay.

The cost to each employee across the board would be $120 a month, or $60 each pay period.

It was noted by law that no employee can be charged more than 9.5 percent their salary.

Mascorro made the motion to accept the bid from the TAC pool.

Bourland said he’s like to see a workshop to discuss options and have a full commissioners court present. Commissioner Stanley Tuttle was absent from the special meeting.

Regardless, Commissioner Ann Lopez made the second, and the motion passed with Commissioner Rod Bernal voting for.

Bourland abstained from the vote.

The insurance plan will begin Oct. 1, and educational sessions for employees will be scheduled.

The commissioners had approved an amendment to its lease agreement for the Refugio County Airport on Friday, Aug. 2.

The amendment extends the lease to Feb. 28, 2042, and includes an option for the county to purchase the airport at a price to be determined later.

The lease agreement will satisfy the requirement that the county either own or have a long-term lease to be eligible for airport grant money.

Now, if the owner of the property – F.B. Rooke –agrees to the amendment, the county will be eligible for the grants.

The county would be eligible for grants after August 2014.

The airport also will be in need of a fixed base operator – someone to handle fuel sales.

Ruth Vandervlugt, the current FBO, said she plans on retiring from the position as of Oct. 1.

Commissioner Gary Bourland made the motion to continue with the FBO process and add a credit card system to the budget process. The motion was approved unanimously.

An estimates on how much a credit card system would run was from $40,000 to $50,000, and it would take a couple of months to install.

The credit card system was the recommendation of the Airport Advisory Committee.

“It’s unrealistic for us to have somebody out there maintaining it,” Mascorro said.

Advertising for someone to set up shop at the airport, as well as someone to build a hangar and bring a mechanic was discussed.

Commissioners also planned to hold budget hearings and develop a budget for the airport’s needs, including fuel purchases, tank upkeep and tank insurance. Those workshops will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks.

Each fuel purchase is 6,000 gallons, which lasts about three months. About 80 cents a gallon on the $5.40 a gallon sale is made from fuel sales at the airport, according to Vandervlugt.

Commissioners also picked Sept. 10 as a time to meet with members of the Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Division and the Refugio County Airport Advisory Committee.

Commissioners on Tuesday, Aug. 13, also heard from Tim Ware of Garner Environmental Services Inc.

Ware told commissioners his Houston company is a disaster response company.

“Hopefully, we’ll go another 40 years without having to have that,” he said.

Ware said his company has been looking for a central location having five to eight acres of good hard surface for years to designate as a staging area when disaster strikes.

He said the Refugio Fair Grounds is perfect. He added that Refugio is 46 miles inland and 54 feet above sea level.

“Trucks will be in and out,” he said.

Bourland said the area Ware wants with the asphalt underneath belongs to the Refugio County Fair Association, but he said the county was ready to let Garner Environmental Services the county’s part.

“We will put everything back better than it was,” Ware said, if an emergency situation arose.

He said otherwise his company would have to stage in Houston.

“That’s a long way,” he said. He said the cost of maintenance and equipment they bring would be prohibitive.

Ware said his company helped out after Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Ike, as well as the BP oil spill and others.

Ware said his company began in 1981 and has been doing emergency response since 1994.

Still determined to use the fairgrounds, Ware said, “We’ll work it out.”

Commissioners approved letting the company use the county’s portion of the fairgrounds.

Commissioners also approved extending the burn ban another 60 days.

And the court approved a computer purchase of $1,299 for Justice of the Peace Lorraine Lopez.
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