On Thursday the Marshall County Council approved an ordinance that establishes a new fund for the grant funds for the Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation project and an ordinance creating a new fund where money will be placed for the Employee Benefit Rainy-Day Fund for self-insurance.
County Auditor Angie Birchmeier explained the insurance ordinance saying, “The commissioners have moved forward with self-funded insurance next year and we have to track that differently than we have with fully funded which is where these two funds come into play.” The auditor said several other counties are going self-funded and have created a Rainy-Day fund to place the insurance benefit funds in.
Council President Jesse Bohannon said, “Personally, I would like to thank the commissions for moving in this direction. I think this is going to be a long-term financial benefit for the county and I’m glad they are moving in this direction.”
Councilman Jim Masterson motioned to approve creating the funds and his motion was seconded by Councilwoman Deb Johnson.
Councilman Tim Harman asked the council’s attorney if the funds placed in the Employee Benefit Rainy-Day Fund were restrictive or if the council could pull funds out if they wanted to for another use. Harman said, “My concern is that it’s not flexible once we put it in there.”
The attorney said he believes the funds are earmarked for insurance but that it could be moved for other expenditures.
The County Council approved creating the insurance funds for self-employment.
Next on the council’s agenda was a resolution to transfer $1.5 million into the newly created Employee Benefit Rainy-Day Fund and $1 million into the county’s existing Rainy-Day Fund. The County Auditor said the 2024 budget is $35,548,024. The request to put $2.5 million into the Rainy-Day funds is well below the permitted percentage of the budget.
The Auditor said the main concern with being self-funded this first year is that the commissioners don’t know how much is going to be needed, that’s why the request was $1.5 million.
Councilman Harman made a motion to alter the amount for the Employee Benefit Rainy-Day Fund to $500,000. He said benefits won’t be paid immediately. If a health issue occurs in January or February, it will take at least a month or two before the invoice will be presented for payment. He said the county’s insurance agent, Ryan Colvin, and the county’s financial consultant suggested two months of reserves would be a fair amount. The county’s projected expense next year is $2.6 million and rounding that out, 2 months would be $435,000 so the half million Harman suggested would be substantial.
Harman said if expenses come in and the county needs more funding for the employee’s self-funded insurance, they could pull the additional funds from the county’s regular Rainy-Day Fund.
The council unanimously approved the amended resolution with the lower amount.