COLUMBIANA COUNTY Employees to get new insurance plan

Commissioners approved a two-year labor contract containing a 3 percent pay raise each year.
LISBON -- Columbiana County commissioners are overhauling the health insurance program that covers nearly 700 county workers in hopes of saving thousands of dollars.
Commissioners said Wednesday that they expect to enter into a new program by the end of this month that will enable them to avoid a nearly $3.7 million annual increase in the health insurance plan covering employees.
The county pays a $672 monthly premium for employees on a family insurance plan. Learning that the cost is expected to leap to $1,100 helped motivate commissioners to scrap the policy.
The new plan will continue to provide employees with health, dental, prescription and eye coverage. But savings will be realized partly through a network of care providers.
Workers still won't help pay for premiums. But they must provide a $10 copayment for doctor visits and up to $16 for prescriptions.
Commissioners aren't certain yet how much premiums for the new plan will be; their advisers are still crunching numbers.
However, commissioners said they've been assured the new premiums will be less than what the county's paying now.
The county's current insurance bill is about $5 million per year.
Employees helped: Commissioner President Dave Cranmer credited county employees with aiding the county in adopting more economical health coverage.
County employees represented by unions agreed to amended contracts that made the coverage change possible, Cranmer said.
Labor contract OK'd: In other matters, commissioners approved a two-year labor contract with the five employees under their supervision.
The pact calls for 3 percent pay raises in each year of the contract. Employees covered by the agreement average about $11 per hour now.
Commissioners also approved raising the hourly pay for the commissioners clerk post from $10.43 to $12.03.
Power plant: The panel passed a resolution supporting a $600 million electric-generation plant proposed by Cogentrix Energy Inc. of Charlotte, N.C.
The company wants to begin construction late this year on the gas-fired plant, which it intends to build along St. Jacob-Logtown Road in Center Township.
Before construction can begin, the company must get approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board, to whom commissioners directed the resolution.
Commissioner Sean Logan explained that the siting board likes to know how public officials in a proposed project area feel about an undertaking.

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