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Benefits options studied

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County to buy 3 squad cars

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The Fayette County Board renewed dental and vision coverage for its employees, but that renewal may be for only one month.
As the board voted on that issue, Wade Wilhour, chairman of the board’s insurance and personnel committee, said he would be presenting to the board next month a proposal related to that coverage.
Wilhour said that of the county’s 88 employees, 59 – including seven elected officials – are not represented by a union.
He said he will be recommending that the 52 non-union employees will have a choice – accept a pay increase of 25 cents per hour and get their own dental and vision coverage, if they want it; or have the county continue to pay in what it currently does for that coverage.
The recommended pay increase of 25 cents an hour, he said, is “about what we’re paying for (their) dental and vision.”
Wilhour said that he will also recommend that the county no longer provide dental and vision coverage for elected officials. “They are paid well enough,” he said.
Board member Glenn Gurtner asked, “If it’s a wash (between the pay increase and coverage cost), what’s the benefit?”
Wilhour said that some employees don’t need glasses and, therefore, don’t want or need vision coverage. And, he said, “Some people don’t go to the dentist.
“Personally, I’d rather have the (additional) 25 cents an hour,” Wilhour said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• Fayette County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Kendra Craig reported that a number of EMA volunteers and other first responders in Fayette County went to Watson earlier in the week to participate in the search for 7-year-old Willow Long. The youth was found dead on Tuesday, and her uncle has been charged in her death.
• The board voted to continue having Croxford and Co. provide audit services. The county will pay the Alton firm $35,280, or about $1,000 more than the fee for this year.
Some board members have looked into the possibility of going with another firm, one that’s more local, but Knebel said he has studied the issue and has been told, “If we go elsewhere, it could quadruple the cost.”
• The board approved a preliminary engineering agreement with Hampton, Lenzini and Renwick Inc. of Springfield for the rehabilitation of County Highway 14 east of Herrick.
• The board approved the transfer of $45,000 from the county’s capital improvement fund for the purchase of three squad cars for the sheriff’s office.
Knebel said he had been “hearing way to many complaints” about the squad cars currently being used. “In that capacity, that’s not acceptable.”
Sheriff Aaron Lay said that one of his squad cars has more than 200,000 miles on the odometer, two more are right at 200,000 and one had 175,000 miles.
Three 2011 Ford Police interceptors are being purchased from the Missouri State Highway Patrol at a cost of $14,950 each. Lay said each of the squad has 50,000-55,000 miles on it.
He said that due to cutbacks, he has not included squad cars in his budget in the past three years.
Knebel said, “We’d better start catching up.”
Wade Wilhour said the county is fortunate to have its capital improvement fund.
“If we didn’t have the capital improvement fund, we’d have to suffer (in other areas) or borrow money,” Wilhour said.