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LIBERTY Board differs over insurance contract



Published: Thu, September 27, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Commissioners also awarded two other insurance contracts, but will still seek bids on them.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

LIBERTY -- Contracts to provide insurance to more than 1,200 Trumbull County employees should generally be publicly advertised and awarded to the lowest bidder, Trumbull County commissioners agree.

The devil is in the details.

In a rare split vote at a commissioners meeting in Liberty Wednesday, Commissioner Michael O'Brien voted against accepting a proposal submitted by Ravella Insurance Agency of Girard to provide life insurance.

The reason, he said, was because the $85,000 contract was not put out to bid.

Rather, Commissioner Joseph Angelo Jr. said, he called two insurance brokers for quotes after the company the county had been doing business with raised its rates, from 23 cents to 25 cents per $1,000 coverage.

Only Ravella returned the call, Angelo said. Ravella offered life insurance for 21 cents per $1,000.

"From what I can see, I saved the county a ton of money and I'm happy with it," Angelo said. "When it was 25 cents, no one said a word about bidding. Now, everyone is talking about bids."

Amount of savings: The contract awarded Wednesday will save the county $14,000 a year, Angelo said.

Life insurance coverage through the current contract, which had been awarded through a bid process two years ago, was set to expire at the end of the month. Jeff Rossi of Youngstown was the agent.

There was no time to seek bids after commissioners learned of the rate increase last month, said Commissioner James G. Tsagaris.

Unlike most county expenditures, insurance does not have to be put out for bid.

"I think Mr. Angelo did a very good job," Tsagaris said. He said he is in favor of bidding out two contracts to provide health insurance that the commissioners also awarded Wednesday.

"We are talking millions there," he said.

The health insurance contracts, worth a combined $7.5 million last year, were given to the same companies as last year through a proposal by Rossi. Commissioners said they can cancel those contracts on 30 days' notice, and so they still intend to solicit bids.

Expected increase: The expense of health insurance from the current providers is expected to increase by 30 percent this year, said James Keating, the county's director of human resources.

Commissioners have approved the purchase of a used mobile classroom to serve as a command center for the Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency.

The modified 1990 bus, which had served as a classroom for Howland School District students, has only 500 miles on the odometer, said Linda Beil, EMA director.

Commissioners will pay $10,000 to buy it from the Howland Township trustees.

Before going into service as a command center for natural disasters and emergency situations, the vehicle will be further modified with outdoor lights, communications equipment, computers and a generator, Beil said.

She estimated that the modifications will cost $10,000 to $15,000.




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