Middleton will pick up extra health care costs of workers

NEGLEY – A move to pass on the cost of additional health care fees to Middleton Township employees died last week.

Trustee Eldena Gearhart, who will be replaced on the board by Greg Lipp in January, made the motion that died when Trustees Timothy Pancake and Nancy Michaels did not second.

Gearhart said the township cannot afford to cover the cost of additional hospitalization fees, and they should be covered by each individual employee.

“Everybody I’ve talked to, no one else in the townships pay anything. We are already paying 10 percent,” Pancake said.

Pancake is the only trustee on the township’s insurance, and hospitalization coverage is provided through Medical Mutual. Gearhart and Michaels are reimbursed by the township for their insurance coverage by outside sources.

Last year all township employees, including Gearhart and Michaels, began contributing 10 percent due to rising insurance costs and state funding cuts. It was the first time employees were asked to contribute on the benefits.

“The township can’t continue to pick up on all the other expenses. It looks like it would be better, and fair, to just have the actual fees passed along versus doing an actual percentage,” Gearhart said.

She added she already spoke with Lipp and he was in agreement.

The fees would translate to about 3 percent per individual, Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman said, and would affect Lipp, Pancake, and full-time road employees Don Bevington and Tom Reidy.

“We (the township) have already absorbed the 3 percent insurance increase that Medical Mutual passed along already,” Gearhart said.

To Pancake, she said, “Some have canceled their insurance. Green Township trustees aren’t even getting insurance. The county is now passing along fees to employees.”

According to Gearhart, there are five fees the township cannot afford to pay, and those include a federally mandated fee of 16 cents per individual, plus a .023 percent fee per individual, which she said is the most costly.

The latter fee would translate to an additional $38.71 cost per month for Pancake, she said.

All fees are charged on a monthly basis and would need to be paid monthly, similar to the premiums, she added.

Chapman said the township has previously paid the 16 cent fee, but cannot afford to continue that.

However, with two trustees opposed, the township has no choice but to pick up that cost.

In other business, the board adopted a resolution to support House Bill 330, introduced by State Rep. Nick Barborak to make the song “Ohio” by local musician Zach Paxson the state song. Gearhart abstained from the vote.

Trustees set the year-end meeting for 7 p.m. Dec. 30.