WINNSBORO — At the April 22 meeting of Fairfield County Council, County Human Resources Manager Hyatt Kelsey explained ramifications of the Affordable Care Act and Fairfield County as an employer.
In January 2014, a shared responsibility for health care insurance requirements will apply to employers with more than 50 employees. The county meets that criteria.
Under the plan all employees, including temporary employees, would be offered insurance if they worked an average of 30 hours per week. Insurance offered must be affordable and meet a minimal coverage level. Kelsey said that if coverage is not offered to at least 95 percent of all employees, then the county would be subject to fines of $2,000 per employee per year that occurred.
Kelsey said the county must do an analysis to find out which employees the county is required to offer insurance to. Kelsay said that some part-time workers work six-hour schedules that put them over 30 hours per week and some seasonal employees work over 40 hours per week.
There is an exemption for them for companies with fewer than 50 employees. Kelsey said these portions of the legislation are still being worked out in the months leading to January 2014.
For a 40-hour employee working minimum wage the county pays $15,000 annually.
The cost of health insurance for the coverages the county offered would be $305.34 per month that the employer pays and the county pays a portion. The subscriber’s spouse pays $604.85 a month and a child would pay $468.68. For full family coverage the county pays $757.30 per month.
Annually that comes to $3,664.08 per year for an employee; $7,258.08 per employee per year for a spouse; and $5,624.16 for a child, or $9,087.60 for full family coverage.
Kelsey said he and the county are still trying to figure out how to do right by their employees and the taxpayers. For instance, one option would be to divide some shifts in two so that maintenance workers would work fewer hours. That could be a possibility to cut back on hours and be a way the county could avoid the added costs.
Kelsey hopes to avoid layoffs but said hours could be shortened for about 20 employees.
Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson said council made a wise decision years ago when making the recycling employee jobs to 30 hours per week.
The county will use a transitional period to see what would be best from the county from a temporary employee standpoint. He said it will take some time to go through and calculate what is best for the county taxpayers.
Starting in April the county will do a six month payroll analysis. Employee hours will be reviewed to see who qualifies.
“If you add all this extra cost on, would it be more effective to have your existing workers work overtime instead of hiring temporary workers? We’ll have to see,” Anderson said.
At this time the only change would be a reduction of hours for temporary employees. There would be no change in temporary employees’ insurance.
“That is a terrible thing to have to figure around — folks’ insurance. So cost prohibitive now. That’s a slap in the face where you are darned if you do and if you don’t. A lot of folks don’t realize what those costs are but they are (significant) premiums to be sure,” Chairman David Ferguson said. “Dropping employees down to 15 hours at the recycling centers and cutting back on 20 hour employees will help us some. We are getting enough mandates from the state that it’s a hard thing to keep your head above water, really.”
In other business, Terry Vickers said a grant was approved for $40,000 to start a Farmer’s Market on Congress Street that would work with the SNAP program and could sell produce certified S.C. Grown.
The entrepreneurial opportunity would involve the schools as well. Vickers said the 1833 Thesbian Hall and the area from East Washington Street to North Zion remains the main hub of the Winnsboro Walking Tour. She asked if the historic building they considered tearing down could at least have a facade that would be in keeping with the historic ambiance of the area.
“If you do decide to put a new building along Congress Street (for climate controlled records storage), please consider including a historic facade and carve out a spot for a Farmer’s Market and a DHEC certified kitchen,” Vickers said.
She hoped they could work together to save a piece of history. County Administrator Phil Hinely said that some of the state records were historic and needed to be preserved in hard copy. There also were court records and was a need for evidence preservation with cases and DNA storage. There are state retention standards the county is required to adhere to hence the budgeted request for a new building for climate controlled storage.
“We will do (construction) right. The building will be built to look nice,” Hinely assured Vickers and others.
Ferguson said the best thing might be to tear the old voter registration building down and rebuild something accommodating to the county’s needs. He used Mt. Zion as an example of an old facility that strains feasibility when one considers renovations.
He noted that when he first came on county council there was more grant money for historic preservation and less competition for those dollars but that no longer is the case.
In September 2011 council discussed the fate of the old voter registration building. Ferguson asked council members to think about construction options and about what is the most appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. The matter will be discussed further at an upcoming county council meeting.
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