Mt. Vernon Register-News

August 23, 2013

County gets break on med care

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — A savings of approximately $37,000 for claims for medical care to Jefferson County prisoners has reduced the overall total of claims the full County Board will approve on Monday.

During Thursday's Fiscal Committee meeting, it was reported the county rebilled for services rendered by hospitals through Medicaid, reducing the amount. Administrative Assistant Suzy Tate there are at least two other claims pending that may reduce the county's claims another $37,000.

Treasurer Dan Knox reported the county had approximately $141,000 in claims to be approved. He also reported the balance in the General Corporate working cash fund is $240,032, although that number is expected to climb to $250,000 by next week. Knox also said he is holding approximately $32,000 in the treasurer's office for past claims.

Knox said payrolls have looked "considerably well" in recent months, and the county's fiscal condition continues to improve.

"Are we paying all of our bills on time? No. But are we getting them paid in a decent amount of time? Yes," said Knox, who cautioned another $200,000 payroll is coming up in two weeks and the county has an $84,000 insurance premium due by the end of the month.

Knox reported the county's local use tax and state income tax receipts are coming in a timely manner, and the county has received August payments in its one-quarter cent sales tax and 1 percent sales tax accounts. The county received $95,650 from its Public Safety tax in August, with a bank balance of $1.8 million.

"If the will of the people is upheld, that tax will sunset in 2024 and you'll have 10 years of payments for which you might have $3 million at that time to make close to $10 million worth of payments," said Chairman Robert White. "So the idea there may be some access funds is because the assumption was the refinancing was understood the sales tax would run out, but upon further investigation says no. In fact the provision on the ballot was that it would stop in 2024."

White and Knox confirmed the county can't start paying off the bond debt on the jail until 2020 without being penalized.

"Basically future generations will be looking at anywhere from $6 million to $7 million in obligated debt in which there is no funding for," White said."Imagine this board trying to come up with $950,000 to make a bond payment."

Board member Jim Laird said it's his opinion the one-quarter cent sales tax will have to remain on until the debt is paid off.

The Committee also learned a savings of about $4,500 will be available since the county does not have to full coverage on four Humvee vehicles under the care of the sheriff's department. Insurance agent Randy Martin of Diamond Brothers told committee members the vehicles need liability insurance only, and Sheriff Roger Mulch said the vehicles are on loan from the federal government.

"The federal government has surplus military property that they only assign to sheriffs," Mulch said. "If you acquire something from the federal government they want you to insure it naturally, but it's up to the county how they want to insure it. If something happens to that vehicle, we do not have to supplement it back to them, we don't have to give them money for it. It's ours." Mulch said if the county disposes of the vehicles, they must inform the feds of the transaction or if destroyed, notification is required.

Mulch said the vehicles are invaluable and are placed strategically in the four corners of the county to respond to a potential emergency.