INSURANCE COMMITTEE MINUTES
22 NOVEMBER 2022
Chair David Wamble opened the meeting asking Commissioner Matt Rubelsky to offer a prayer and lead the pledge. The Minutes of 16 September 2021 were approved with the following change: Commissioner Gayle Jones noted her vote on sending to the budget an insurance increase of $45K was not a “no” but an “abstain” due to lack of information at the time. The motion for approval, with change, was made by Commissioner David Adams and seconded by Commissioner James Lathrop.
The Chair asked that the Alsup and Associates Insurance representatives provide an overview of their services and noted their coverage does not include health care coverage. Mr. Jimmy Alsup started the discussion with Mr. Chad Alsup also providing some of the information. The insurance coverage is a liability policy, including property, professional, workman compensation and some smaller coverage on bonds. As an agent, they typically use the “local government insurance pool” which is a Not-For-Profit alternative for the insurance needs of Tennessee county governments existing for over 30 years. The coverage is $1M per occurrence, and $2M aggregate, with a $1M umbrella above coverage. Mr. Jimmy Alsup noted the school is not covered under this policy since they have their own insurance coverage. Other areas mentioned: autos, some flood coverage (separate policy for Richland school), cyber coverage, and examples of the helpful coverage on individual assets. Commissioner Gayle Jones asked if the detailed information could be provided and that was promised by Mr. Chad Alsup through the County Executive. Commissioner Matt Rubelsky asked for clarification on the “local government pool” with that also being provided and with the Chair noting that the county has a long and good relationship with the Alsups as the county’s local agent. Commissioner Gayle Jones asked if there is an audit done at the end of the year and who does it. Financial Manager Beth Moore-Sumners described the process saying she fills out a form for the local government pool and further that the state has approved not having to bid out the service. She also commented that the pool is stronger now than ever, and with a local agency assisting, that the county is blessed to have such great support. The Chair raised a question about an increase due to the cost of the probation issue and Mr. Jimmy Alsup noted the umbrella now gives greater coverage, and with the school having a separate policy, that umbrella gives even more coverage for the remaining. The Chair asked if the insurance needs of the county are assessed from time to time, re a question on one of the Richland schools being in a flood plain. Mr. Chad Alsup said the assessment is done on a daily basis; that they are very proactive. A question on inflation by Commissioner Matt Rubelsky was answered yes that is looked at every three years, for example a lowering of coverage on the courthouse (on a replacement cost basis). They do not cover contents, and a form is sent to the agent each year to update, e.g., vehicles and an option to raise on personal property. A question by Commissioner Gayle Jones from Commissioner Hopkins (absent) on cyber security was answered with yes covered but the audit is through a 3rd party; and what is the backup plan on ransom. Mr. Chad Alsup said that is covered and they will come in on-site to assist. Crystal Greene, Circuit Court Clerk, noted that the individual departments have individual policies and that all have training in cyber security. County Executive Graham Stowe asked about mediating risk if the county were to have a dedicated IT person. Mr. Jimmy Alsup said yes and potentially lower premiums. The County Executive noted that the county continues to have issues with their IT. Ms. Beth Moore-Sumners noted that the county pays around $35K for support of hardware, and to have a dedicated IT person would be worth considering. The discussion ended with Mr. Chad Alsup encouraging all to come by or call.
Next Area of discussion – Duties/Responsibilities of the Committee. A handout was provided by the County Executive, which he noted had been discussed with the County Attorney. He further noted that the committee’s primary responsibility is financial oversight and that he has an open-door policy. He prefers understanding the granularity of the issue and being able to bring a solution with the assistance of CTAS and the county attorney, if need be, prior to presenting to the committees. He asked that all pay attention and read their emails. The Chair said that insurance is one of the bigger shares of the county budget and that makes this particular committee of utmost importance. He called out Dr. Lathrop who has both medical and insurance experience as a benefit to the committee. He then introduced the county’s human resource manager, Liz Pate. She discussed the state’s health care plan and said that if you change from that plan, there is a two year wait to opt for that plan again. She had contacted several other counties that had chosen that path and said they had suffered with lost employees as a result. She mentioned losing personnel in the sheriff’s office since the county benefits are not as good as some of the surrounding counties (benefits under the state plan same for all counties with the differences being which Tier of insurance your county is placed in and even more significantly how much does the county contribute vs how much the employee has to pay out of pocket.) Ms. Beth Moore-Sumners mentioned using a previous broker who was to look at other options than the state plan and who had provided a lackluster and poorly conceived report. County Executive Stowe said we need to get somebody to think outside of the box, to look at local people, and what can this committee do. Commissioner Lathrop, pulling from previous minutes, said only 20 people have family coverage (and noting that is a costly coverage for a family) and nobody looked into getting some competitive bids. County Executive said, looking at other counties, the consensus is they keep coming back to the state plan. Several commissioners gave examples of less expensive coverage (at least to the employee) with some examples in counties with more tax base; and the County Executive mentioned previously discussed bonuses of $137K total and what else could you do with those dollars to help the people. Commissioner Judy Pruett asked about the 20 people mentioned in previous minutes, and Commissioner Lathrop suggested that others would select that option, if the costs could be more reasonable to the employee. Ms. Beth Moore-Sumners mentioned losing a seasoned deputy, who has been a long term employee that was considering other jobs; and that she knows on a daily basis that the county employees are hurting. She also noted that decisions this committee makes are so important to each employee. Commissioner Matt Rubelsky said that people’s experiences are important but you also have to run the county as a business. To do more county funding for insurance coverage, rather than the employee paying more than other counties might pay for their employees, would require resources. He mentioned the exits on the Interstate but noted those are long term resource possibilities.
The Chair introduced Mr. Adam Reeves, Shoemaker Financial, who is the agent for PES insurance coverage. While Mr. Reeves offer to provide consultant services free was gracious, due to liability questions the county could not accept that offer. A comment by Commissioner Caleb Savage on the potential cost, especially if a considerable number of people opt for the family coverage, Ms. Page noted there would be a caveat that if the spouse already has family coverage through their organization, they would not be eligible under the county plan. The County Executive noted the cost of not doing something for the employees needed to be considered, e.g., cost of losing employees and recruitment. Commissioner Gayle Jones mentioned the funding identified in the full commission meeting by Senator Hensley and the possibility of using some of those funds for the local government insurance needs. Ms. Beth Moore-Sumners said if local government could be included in the state pools, then there would not be tiers (a current problem for Giles County, since the county’s tier represents a less healthy pool of employees overall). The Giles school system is statewide so they have the one tier. Commissioner Evan Baddour suggested there shouldn’t be a need to consider, that replacing the $137K bonus by an increase to county’s portion of the insurance didn’t need any discussion (has specific personal income tax considerations as well). Ms. Beth Moore-Sumners noted the timing, that being seven months until next cycle, and which would impact the starting date of any change.
At this time Commissioner Caleb Savage discussed a potential option, i.e., since the “employee only under the Premier PPO” is a cost to the employee of $130, maybe cut that employee share to $100, or $105, with Commissioner Matt Rubelsky stating need to stay ahead of comparable counties, such as Lawrence. Both Ms. Moore-Sumners and Ms. Nancy Griffin commented on all the county employees that are struggling and that’s it’s different looking at paper while budgeting vs actually working with the individual employees and how the decisions affect them. Commissioner Terry Jones commented that you can’t do bonuses for a few, have to consider all. With that The Chair noted he would entertain a motion which was provided by Commissioner Caleb Savage to send to the budget committee the proposed new employer cost and monthly employee costs by policies all shown on the handout provided earlier. Commissioner Gayle Jones provided the second. Commissioner Matt Rubelsky said this action should be considered as a business mode, and can we afford this? Ms. Moore-Sumners said the numbers would not be available until May. Several commissioners commented on their support for the motion as did Ms. Crystal Greene who noted her employees showed up during COVID. Commissioner Gayle Jones asked about doing a resolution requesting the state consider contributions, and the Chair and others said only needed a call. Motion approved.
With no specific old or new business, Commissioner Caleb Savage moved for adjournment and with Commissioner Joseph Sutton providing the second, the motion was approved unanimously.
ATTENDEES: Members of the Committee – Commissioners Chair David Wamble, Dr. James Lathrop, David Adams, Joseph Sutton, Gayle Jones, Caleb Savage, and Judy Pruett; Other Commissioners attending – Matt Rubelsky, Terry Jones, Maurice Woodard, Rose Brown, Erin Curry, Joyce Woodard, Evan Baddour, Annelle Guthrie, Brad Butler; Others – County Executive Graham Stowe, Financial Management Office Director Beth Moore-Sumners, Nancy Griffin, Liz Page; Office of Emergency Management Interim Director Josh Young, Solid Waste Coordinator Julie Phillips, Master Clerk Crystal Greene, Fire and Rescue Bill Myers, Alsup and Associates Insurance Jimmy and Chad Alsup, Shoemaker Financial Adam Reeves, and members of the public