CHARLESTON - Mississippi County officers and employees are insured - and that's a good feeling.
Good enough that commissioners decided to stay with Trustmark health insurance for the time being despite a company offering to take them up April 1 for a lower price.
Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said there were several nights he laid awake worrying about the county becoming liable for a $100,000 medical bill if something happened while the county had no insurance.
County officers and employees were without coverage since Feb. 7 when their former provider was placed in forced receivership by a Texas judge on the grounds they were an unlicensed insurance provider, according to Junior DeLay, county clerk. A temporary injunction has since then been filed challenging the finding.
Trustmark accepted the county's premium in the middle of March but backdated their coverage to March 1. "I feel like there's an obligation," Blumenberg said.
In the meantime, American Community Mutual has offered to cover the county beginning April 1 at a lower price for a similar program as well as offering another plan with "a third of the deductible plus better coverage in some areas," said DeLay.
Martin Lucas, commissioner, said he appreciates Blumenberg's work to get the county coverage, but nevertheless entered a motion to go with American Community Mutual as it would cost the county $4,000 per month less. "There would be a significant savings to the county," he explained.
The motion died for lack of a second. Commissioner Homer Oliver said he felt the company had only gone the extra step and backdated their coverage to March 1 because they thought the county would then stay with them at least until the end of the year.
DeLay also updated commissioners on the county's former plan. He explained there was a conflict over the transfer of claims histories between third party claims processors. The responsible company, TRG Marketing, had assured the county in a letter that they were "committed to taking care of all claims" and would resume processing and finalize outstanding claims by May 1.
Blumenberg said they will need to provide a copy of the letter to employees as some are "getting ready to get sued" for outstanding medical bills. Blumenberg said it is important for those with outstanding medical bills to maintain communication with those they owe.
In other Mississippi County commission business:
* Commissioners approved negotiating a contract with ProMap Corporation of Ames, Iowa, to set up the county's Geographic Information System as recommended by W.R. "Bill" Thompson, county assessor.
Thompson said he chose ProMap's because of their greater experience.
"They have more to offer," Thompson said. "They're by far the better company."
"It was a dilemma because I really wanted to use a Missouri company," he added.
Midland GIS Solutions of Sunrise Beach also presented a proposal and completed the needs assessment survey for the county.
For quality control, Thompson will ask ProMap to furnish a mylar map so they will have a physical product to examine.
County officials will also ask ProMap computer people to make contact with Joe Sorrels of J-Mar which has been using GIS in their farming operation.
An earlier estimate for the project from Joel Zitterich, GIS project consultant for ProMap, was $136,000 but officials will negotiate for a final price.
* Commissioners awarded the bid for new mower for use at the Oak Grove Cemetery to French Implement Company in Charleston. The company's $3,106 bid with trade-in was the lower of the two bids received.
Nelson Tractor and Equipment of Sikeston bid two products at $4,550 and $4,495 after trade in.
The old mower had no problems, "just a lot of hours on it," according to Blumenberg.
Commissioners also discussed planting oak and dogwood trees at the Oak Grove Cemetery.
"It would be a good time to plant them while it's wet," said Lucas.
They agreed the oaks would need to be at least 50 feet apart to allow for their full size. Oliver said they would also have to set them back away from the road in anticipation of their full size.