Board might drop age limit for county retiree insurance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Changes in the county retiree health insurance could become part of the budget discussions in June.
The county’s Personnel Board met nearly 90 minutes Thursday to consider changes that would allow 10 or more current employees to leave now.
Currently, a county employee must be 55 before he or she can retire and receive the free health insurance until they qualify for Medicare. Under one proposal, the age limit would be dropped.
County Manager Gary Page is recommending the changes as a way to save money, up to $250,000 a year.
Page laid out various scenarios that would allow the county to replace the employees with lower-salaried new hires.
Some of the positions could also be eliminated.
Carl Ford, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and member of the Personnel Board, said none of the recommendations under consideration would affect Sheriff George Wilhelm, who currently doesn’t qualify for retiree insurance.
County officials said last week Wilhelm had expressed an interest in retiring, but doesn’t qualify under the current policy.
The board also briefly discussed the possibility of changing the county’s current health insurance program, requiring new hires to pay some portion of the insurance.
The county sets aside $656 monthly for each employee under its self-insurance program.
The Personnel Board reached no conclusion on any of the recommendations.
Ford said the full board of commissioners will likely look at the issue as part of the budget discussions in June.
All five commissioners attended at least a portion of the session.