County employees keep same benefits
Polk County Enterprise, July 2007
By VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Polk County commissioners voted to renew the existing group health insurance plan and employee benefits pool for county employees with a 4.9 percent increase in premiums during their regular meeting Tuesday.
“That’s not bad in today’s insurance market,” County Judge John Thompson said.
The plan administrator, the Texas Association of Counties, has agreed to pay a $43,799 renewal credit in monthly installments, according to Thompson. After calculating the renewal credit in monthly installments, the county will see a net increase of $31,942.
The renewal also means that county employees will not see an increase in out of pocket expenses, officials said.
Commissioners reviewed a draft report on the independent audit performed by Sandersen Knox & Belt LLP.
Auditor Robert Belt told commissioners his firm had about eight remaining questions to clear up, but he expects to render an unqualified opinion that the county’s financial statements are materially correct.
Belt also commended Vernon Loftin for performing well in a challenging situation.
“He was handed the captain’s hat when the pilot and the copilot bailed out and (Loftin) was asked to fly the plane,” Belt said, referring to the departure of former County Auditor Bob Dockens.
“All the responsibility was placed on him during that difficult time.”
Belt also pointed out that the independent auditor cannot step in and prepare financial statements. As an outside auditor they are limited to pointing out deficiencies and directing county staff to correct or supplement reports.
“We could have stopped at any point and said the county was not compliant,” Belt said.
Loftin was appointed interim county auditor in August 2006 and served until district judges named Ray Stelly as a permanent replacement in January.
One of the final questions to be answered is whether one capital equipment lease should be paid from the general fund or the road and bridge fund.
Belt said a key thing that citizens and bond rating agencies look at is fund balances.
The general fund has a balance of $2,945,000.
Bond raters look for fund balances adequate to meet 25 percent of the annual expenses, Belt said.
“That provides a rainy day fund and gets you through the lean months between the time tax statements go out and when the payments start to come in,” Belt said.
The Road and Bridge fund currently meets that 25 percent threshold, but if all four commissioners spend all the carryover funds allocated to them, that would liquidate that fund balance, according to Belt.
The court approved the purchase of kitchen equipment needed to complete the move of the centralized kitchen that serves the county’s senior citizen meal program.
The Aging Services budget only has the funds to purchase the refrigerator, so the remaining items will be purchased out of fund balances and added to the reimbursement resolution for the fiscal year.
“It will be something north of $16,000,” Thompson said. Officials are waiting on final clarifications on some bid amounts.
Commissioners also approved a resolution honoring human resources supervisor Judy Isaacs for her many years of service to Polk County.
The court approved the purchase of two Mack trucks for $194,830 for Precinct 4.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet said the bidder notified him the buyback amount on an existing truck to be traded in would be at least $77,000.
The remainder of the purchase price will be financed with a lease purchase agreement with Bancorp South.
Commissioners also unanimously approved a list of election judges and alternates nominated by the county clerk for a two-year term.
The road and bridge fee and currently child safety fee were also approved for the calendar year 2008 during Tuesday’s meeting.
Both fees are collected through vehicle registrations handled by the Texas Department of Transportation.