Lisbon tries to get ahead of health care reform

LISBON – The village became at least the second local government agency to renew health insurance coverage before it normally expires in the hopes of minimizing the impact of Obamacare in 2014.

Village Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner reported at this week’s council meeting she authorized renewal of the employee health insurance coverage now instead of in May, when it normally expires, after the carrier gave them the option to do so now.

Like the Columbiana County Port Authority, which did the same thing with its coverage, Wonner hopes that locking in now with a new contract will protect the village for at least one year from any financial fallout that occurs in 2014, when the major components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) begin taking effect.

Wonner said she took the insurance carrier up on its offer “instead of taking a chance of seeing what our rates would be for renewing once the Affordable Care Act is in full swing.”

The village’s rates will increase 6.3 percent with the renewal, which Wonner considered a bargain, costing Lisbon an additional $10,800 per year. The village already pays $14,197 per month to cover 22 full-time employees, who pay 12.5 percent of the cost of their monthly premium.

In action at the meeting, Councilman Joe Morenz presented his proposed job description for the new position of parks and pool manager. He envisions this being a part-time position, with the person hired being paid $12 an hour. The person would work more hours from May through Labor Day, when the community pool is open.

Council will review Morenz’s proposal before taking up the issue.

Council also passed on first reading the village’s proposed 2014 budget that sets general fund spending at $1.39 million. Wonner noted the village’s share of the state gasoline tax has dropped in recent years to $72,000 and it appears it will continue to do so, which means council will have to use more general fund revenue to subsidize the street department. This will leave less money in the general fund for other operations.

Council approved the request of Police Chief Mike Abraham to provide $450 for Lt. Fred Carlisle to attend a seminar about managing evidence rooms being put on by the Columbus Police Department. The cost of the seminar is $275, with the rest to cover two night’s lodging and meals.

A letter was received from the Ohio Department of Transportation advising council the portions of state Route 45 and Route 164 within village limits are scheduled to be resurfaced in 2015.

Council agreed to again close a portion of Saltwell Road during the 2014 Columbiana County Fair.