Health Insurance Tops Bath County Supervisors’ Agenda
Warm Springs, VA – This month the Bath County board of supervisors finds itself dealing with health insurance options for county employees and questions about the meals tax. Mr. George Weikel of Business Solutions in Salem, Virginia made a presentation to the board on 3 options for county employee health and dental insurance.
Option 3 changes the deductible to $750, out of pocket maximum expenses to $4000, the primary care physician copay from $15 to $20, the specialist copay from $30 to $40, and would increase the prescription drug card rates $5. Accepting the option 3 plan would save the county over $152,000 compared to the current health care program cost.
After hearing Mr. Weikel’s description of the 3 options, the board voted unanimously to accept option 3, which will reduce county health insurance costs next year.
Susan Hammond, Resident Director of the Virginia Department of Transportation for the Lexington Residency, reported on county roads and projects. The primary activity over the past month has been pothole repair which has been proceeding at the rate of about 200 potholes fixed per month. Several county dirt roads have been regraded and shoulder repairs have begun.
Also in progress are trash pickup, patching and ditch pulling in different parts of the county. Supervisor Hardbarger requested VDOT assistance with trash pickup along route 39 east of Millboro Springs. The shoulder is narrow in this area and Ms. Hardbarger is concerned about public safety of community groups picking up trash in that area.
Mr. Carl Chestnut commented that something needs to be done about the pavement in front of the Fast Break. It is currently rough and broken causing a hazard to vehicles. There is some question about whether the damaged area is the responsibility of VDOT or the Fast Break. Ms. Hammond indicated that anything beyond the shoulder is the responsibility of the business. She will review this situation and provide information on who is responsible for maintaining the pavement in question.
Due to VDOT budget cuts statewide, there is little construction funding in the 6 year plan for county roads. Some revenues from phone taxes will provide about $17,000 per year, for a total of about $103,000 over the 6 year period. Projects planned include route 635 – Ridge Road, Bridge replacement over Cowardin Run on the Jackson River turnpike and bridge improvements at route 676 – Gatewood drive.
With little public comment, the board voted unanimously to accept the VDOT 6 year plan.
Donnie Owen, Director of Business Development for MGW Communications addressed the board on his company’s plans for expansion and addition of new employees over the next 2 years. MGW has started a call center in the old Deerfield school to provide technical support for phone and internet users. Mr. Owen has already hired 2 employees for the call center and expects to add an additional 2 workers in the next month.
The long range plan is for this center to service 50,000 customers a year and eventually employ over 40 local residents. Board chairman Stuart Hall commended Mr. Owen and MGW for bringing these new opportunities for employment to county residents.
During the correspondence period, supervisor Jon Trees read a letter to the board from Mr. John Byers. Mr. Byers expressed concern that the board had instituted a 1-percent meals tax despite the fact that the referendum last fall called for a 4-percent meals tax.
Board chairman Hall explained that the wording of the referendum gave the board latitude to enact up to a 4-percent meals tax, meaning they could choose to enact a lesser amount. Following public hearings on the meals tax proposal, the board chose to start with a 1-percent tax this year, so as not to create hardship for county businesses that already had contracts for providing food and beverages for large groups in the coming year. Otherwise the businesses would have to pay that tax out of their revenues rather than pass them on to customers.
Mr. Byers requested that the board seek an opinion from the state attorney general regarding its actions on the meals tax. The board approved a motion to have county attorney Michael Collins contact the state attorney general.
Tune in later this week to hear about board actions on county tourism projects funding requests from the chamber of commerce and discussions on the flooding problems on Cabin Creek.