By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY —
Unanimously passed budgets didn’t spark much discussion on Monday, but a renewal of employee insurance benefits got a couple of school board members talking.
The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.’s board of trustees unanimously passed benefit renewals, which include single-digit percentage increases that employees will pay.
Rebecca Gardenour, board member, said she understands that the district adopted a flat-dollar amount to pay for employee plans, but she hoped there were ways to cover single plans for employees.
“Are we ever going to do that, have the baseline that we pay come up?” Gardenour asked.
The district pays about $6,100 per employee on single plan health insurance. This year’s rates will increase 4.57 percent, which employees will pay.
Brad Snyder, deputy superintendent, said while it’s possible that the flat-dollar amount could go up, the plans they offer employees are still nice in comparison to other school districts.
He said administrators have been under the flat-dollar-amount coverage since 2010, but other employees have only been under the new rule for a year.
Gardenour said single-plan insurance for school employees is paid by districts in Kentucky and would like to see something similar.
“I’ll never say never,” Snyder said. “It’s a very nice benefit that the board can provide, it just costs money. At some point in time, a school board, superintendent, bargaining team, somebody’s going to make a decision that it’s time to bargain that up. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but in general, there’s still three very nice plans.”
Mark Boone, board member, said benefits are a big expense for the district and is pretty pleased with what it’s able to give employees.
He also said new federal legislation gives employees other options if they want to seek them out.
“Our employees have an alternative to look at now with the Affordable Care Act, they can go out and shop insurance to see that we’re providing some value,” Boone said. “I wish we could give everybody free insurance, but the reality is we can’t do that. You said in your personal opinion, we can do more, I think we’re doing a lot.”
Dental insurance will also rise through both of the district’s providers, Delta Dental and Compdent, by 6 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.
But the district’s long-term disability coverage will drop from 41 cents to 27 cents per hundred dollars. Snyder said the district will realize that savings, not the employee, though the employee only pays $1 for that benefit.
The board passed the renewal unanimously. Snyder said the district will conduct open enrollment for employees entirely online from Nov. 11 to Nov. 22.
The board also unanimously passed all three budgets that came to a vote at Monday’s meeting.
Gardenour indirectly asked Fred McWhorter, chief business officer, where room was made in the capital projects fund for the company it hires out for various media projects, ProMedia.
He said some of the money it uses for the company is in the capital projects budget, including business services, miscellaneous consulting services, and technology budgets.
Gardenour didn’t ask how much was spent on the company, nor did McWhorter say.
Overall, the 2014 budget is about $580,000 slimmer than last year’s. With the debt for the pension/debt fund paid off in 2013, the board requested about $1.29 million less from the Department of Local Government Finance.
It also refinanced toward a lower budget for its debt service fund, bringing that down by about $311,000.
But they’re asking the same amount for their general fund as they did in 2013 at $71 million and just more than $1 million more between its capital projects, transportation and rainy day funds.