Steve Reick’s First Mailing

A Friend of McHenry County Blog sent photos of the mailing that the House Republican Organization sent out on behalf of Steve Reick’s State Rep. candidacy.

You can see it below:

The first mailing for Steve Reick's General Election State Rep. campaign.

The first mailing for Steve Reick’s General Election State Rep. campaign.  It features money being sucked down the drain.

Reick mailing 8-20-16 back

The back has Steve Reick talking to a senior citizen.


The cost of the mailing can be found here.

Considering Consolidation of High School District 155 with Feeder Grade Schools

The following was written by Cary Grade School Board President Scott Coffey:

Thoughts on School Consolidation

Here's the entrance to the Cary Grade School District's Administration Center.

Here’s the entrance to the Cary Grade School District’s Administration Center.

A new, consolidated district is NOT required to migrate to the highest wage rates of the legacy contracts of the combined districts.

However, that has been the experience of consolidating districts in this state.

Why?

It’s just easier to cave in.

Because the alternative requires a substantial amount of effort on behalf of the new Board members and Administration of the new consolidated district to battle the newly formed union to agree to a successor agreement that more closely matches the lower cost agreement rather than the most expensive labor agreement.

And, that, apparently is just too hard to do.

Somehow, people have come to believe that the new district has to live with the more expensive contract, that is not true.

Consolidating the 4 elementary’s that feed D-155 (3, 26, 46, 47) would be quite challenging.

Obviously, all 4 communities have to vote to approve.

And to get approval, there has to be an incentive for each community to want to consolidate.

We’ll start with taxes.

The Operating Tax Rates [dollars per $100 of assessed valuation] for the 4 districts are:

Cary 26 = 3.88827
CL 47 = 4.3488
PG 46 = 4.87884
FRG 3 = 5.717264

At a minimum, the entire proposal would have to drive down to at least Cary’s rate, otherwise Cary residents will vote NO to what would effectively be a tax increase.

So what happens if all the districts migrate to Cary’s rate?

Taxpayers save the following based on current EAV:

  • Cary = $0
  • CL 47 = $7.4 million
  • PG 46 = $2.1 million
  • FRG 3 = $1.7 million

Total = $11.2 million

This is great for most taxpayers, but for Cary residents its tax-neutral.

What’s the incentive for their YES vote?

One might have to design the referendum with a new Tax Rate that is even below Cary’s current rate.

But, back to the above scenario, of course this means also that the new consolidated district will operate with $11.2 million less in annual operating revenue.

At a minimum, the question is, are there enough cost savings opportunities in the new district to cover the lost revenue?

Note: Existing debt service stays with the community that originally issued the debt so that is not a part of the puzzle.

Could a new Board successfully navigate all the challenges (and there are dozens of other issues I haven’t mentioned) and put a successor district in a financially affordable and sustainable position for the future?

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See also

Friends of NRA Annual Fundraiser September 13th

Monica and Rich Young have put on fundraising dinner for the Friends of the NRA for many years.

Rich and Monica Young chat at the Woodstock office that Congressman Joe Walsh office opened.

Rich and Monica Young chat at the Woodstock office that Congressman Joe Walsh office opened.

This year the event will be held at D’Andrea Banquets in Crystal Lake on September 13th.

Note that no tickets will be sold at the door.

NRA invite 9-13-16Raffles and auctions are a big part of the event.
NRA invite 9-13-16 riflesNRA Invite 9-13-16 formNRA invite 9-13-16 raffle ticket

House Republicans Send Mailing on Steve Reick’s Behalf

Steve Reick

Steve Reick

$8,588.66 was spent by the House Republican Organization on a mailing for State Rep. candidate Steve Reick.

In addition, $1,580.26 was reported spent on Reick staffer Jordan Ryan’s salary.

It appears both in-kind contributions were reported twice to the State Board of Elections.

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Would someone with a scanner send me a copy of the mailing when it arrives?

CL Main Beach, Two in Wonder Lake Closed by Health Department

A press release from the McHenry County Health Department:

Beaches closed due to elevated bacteria levels

A hot July day saw lots of people gathering at the Crystal Lake Park District's Main Beach...even through they must pay a $1 entrance fee.

A hot July day saw lots of people gathering at the Crystal Lake Park District’s Main Beach…even through they must pay a $1 entrance fee.

Woodstock Ill. – McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) conducted beach water samplings at 37 licensed beaches on Wednesday August 17.  The following beaches are CLOSED due to elevated bacteria levels.

  • Lake Park Beach (Main Beach) in Crystal Lake
  • Deep Spring Woods 2 in Wonder Lake
  • Wonder Woods 4 in Wonder Lake

This beaches were resampled on Friday, August 19. Residents should visit the MCDH webpage (www.mcdh.info) for the latest information on this and other McHenry County beaches.

To prevent illness associated with swimming, all licensed beaches on the 12 lakes in McHenry County are tested every 2 weeks for E. coli throughout the summer to determine water quality.  Water sampling results are reported to the appropriate beach authorities. MCDH will post an advisory or closed signage for beaches with elevated E. coli results.

All beach water results and locations are readily available at the MCDH webpage www.mcdh.info or by calling 815-334-4585.

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The Health Department informs me that an employee will test Main beach on Saturday.

The results will be on the front page of the department’s web site.

Crystal Lake Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster writes,

“This is a day to day situation so I cannot say if Main Beach will be open or closed. The County Health Dept. will test every day until the levels are back in the acceptable range. Water fowl are typically the cause of this situation.”

Kerri Barber on Valley Hi

From District 1 Democratic Party County Board candidate Kerri Barber:

More on the Funding of Valley Hi

First, allow me to thank our Republican neighbors for highlighting the issue of Valley Hi and the funding questions. It is important that people know the truth.

I posted about the bait & switch at our county board level for Valley Hi to call attention to a lack of transparency over funding of the Valley Hi facility. To be clear, I LOVE Valley Hi and their mission, the work they do and the entire funding concept of this wonderful facility. I have been there, spoken with the leadership, the staff, residents, and families. Their work is heroic on so many levels and needs to be valued and upheld as the standard by which other facilities should strive to achieve.

Protecting Valley Hi from privatization is one of the two reasons I decided to run – not the other way around. I heard about problems arising from the county board over two years ago and starting looking into things for myself. Something had changed and the talk of privatization became a growing theme. Questions were raised from many sources culminating in the board’s decision to abate the funding of our tax dollars down to a $0.00 allocation for the year while they told us they saved that money ‘for us’. That simply wasn’t true.

Valley Hi Nursing Home fund's cash on hand from FY 2006 through FY 2016 (projected).   Over $41 million currently.

Valley Hi Nursing Home fund’s cash on hand from FY 2006 through FY 2016 (projected). Over $41 million currently.

As more questions arose about where the surplus money was invested, the board sought to deflect the issue. The board decided not to address these questions about where the money went. Instead, they decided it was safer to come after me than face the truth and answer some very tough questions honestly.

They think you will be distracted by an assault on my character. While I may be the safer alternative for them, here are some follow-up questions we need to be asking:

  1. Where did that $3 million dollars of tax money collected for the benefit of Valley Hi go? It didn’t go to fund Valley Hi.
  2. All that surplus money – where is that money, how is it being invested right now?
  3. Have members of the board suggested privatizing or outright sale of the facility? How many of them?
  4. Did the board approve and finance a study on the value of the facility for a possible sale?

It is OUR money, given by choice to support the mission of Valley Hi for all of us. You have a right to know the answers to every one of these questions. Keep asking them.

I do have the answers to the above questions because I took time away from my business to be at these meetings. What I am after is their written documentation to provide a credible witness to all of the above – not political rhetoric. My observation – there is a really good reason they don’t record every meeting and it has nothing to do with the expense.

Note: I have asked these questions of my own County Board Rep for District 1, Andrew Gasser, and will await his response. To get input from your own county board rep, you can contact them here: https://www.co.mchenry.il.us/county-government/departments-a-i/county-board/meet-your-county-board-members
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With Valley Hi projected to be in the black in the next fiscal year (starting December 1, 2016), it would seem appropriate for Barber to reveal what advice she would give

Economizing in the Cary Grade School District

Cary Elementary School District 26 Board President Scott Coffey wrote a comment under the effective tax rate story on Tuesday that I posted as an article on Thursday.

Coffey tells how the school board cut costs in a comment, which is posted here:

How the Cary Grade School District Managed to Dig the District Out of the Pit

Watchdog 2, while there is nothing we can do regarding pensions, we have addressed our labor costs.

The salary changes under the union agreement since FY12 have been:

12= -3.0%

  • 13 = zero
  • 14 = zero
  • 15 = +1.7%
  • 16 = +1.5%

Additionally, over the previous 3 years we have had in place a BA-0 new-hire policy, where new hires are only brought in at the lowest base salary in the district.

My guess is that this policy alone currently saves the district more than a million dollars/year given all of the new hires brought on during the previous 3 years.

The result:

Per ISBE, our average teacher salary has fallen from $80,226 in 2011 to $57,006 in 2015 (or almost a 30% reduction).

I think we’ve had great success in reaching a point where the district can offer the programs, technology, new textbooks, etc. to make our students successful, while operating with an affordable, sustainable cost structure.

As to the levy, while we are already operating with the second lowest operating tax rate in the county for K-8 districts, over the last 3 years we have actively implemented various different strategies that have reduced the current and future debt service levy by $1.6 million.

By refinancing debt to reduce interest expense, refunding for less through the contribution of fund balance, establishing a bond sinking fund to retire debt early on its call date, and abating the debt service levy, we have been actively trying to reduce our community’s tax burden.

For 2017, the fourth year in a row, it looks even better.

The Board will shortly review a program that’s on target to add another $3.2 million in tax reduction savings through the simultaneous use of all of these strategies.

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This is the school board on which newly-slated District 3 County Board candidate serves.

Reports like this and the one yesterday contain the kind of information that I image taxpayers all over Illinois would like to read about their local tax districts.

Skillicorn Promotes “No Budget, No Pay” for Legislators

A press release from State Rep. candidate Allen Skillicorn:

Skillifcorn No Budget, no Pay
SKILLICORN WILL SPONSOR ‘NO BUDGET. NO PAY.’ LEGISLATION

EAST DUNDEE – Illinois legislators are the 5th highest paid in the nation and only meet half of the year. Republican candidate for State Representative, Allen Skillicorn proposes “No budget, no pay” legislation to ensure that the General Assembly and Governor pass an annual balanced budget, as required by the state’s Constitution.

Illinois’ Constitution requires a balanced budget be passed every year. If a Constitutionally required balanced budget is not passed the state’s Constitutional Officers and the 177 members of the General Assembly should not be paid their salary.

“In the private sector, we are expected to perform our jobs.

“If we do not, we should not be compensated. It’s time for politicians to start working for their constituents, not themselves.”

Skillicorn continued, “Warren Buffet once said on CNBC he could end the deficit in 5 minutes if he passed a law that said all members of congress are ineligible for reelection if the deficit was greater than 3% of the GDP.

“Now is the time to do something similar here in Illinois.

“I cannot make incumbents ineligible for reelection under our constitution, but I can pass a law that says vendors, nonprofits, hospitals, and schools should be paid before politicians that caused the mess are paid.

“Politicians should be at the back of the line, not the front!”

Currently state law demands that elected officials be paid, but vendors, nonprofits, hospitals, and schools are left in the lurch, waiting 90 days or longer to be paid by the state.

Allen Skillicorn is the Republican nominee for the 66th State House District. The 66th Legislative District represents areas in McHenry and Kane Counties, including Algonquin, Carpentersville, Crystal Lake, East Dundee, Elgin, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Sleepy Hollow, and West Dundee.

Armed Robbery in Harvard Last Night

From the Harvard Police Department:

Armed Robbery

On 08-18- 16 at 0001 hrs police responded to Church at Jefferson Sts in regards to an Armed Robbery.

Church and Jefferson Streets in Harvard.

Church and Jefferson Streets in Harvard.

The victim (m/18 yoa) advised about an half an hour earlier, two black males, both wearing dark colored hooded sweatshirts and blue jeans about 5’09” with average builds, one was wearing a ski mask and the other had some facial hair, approached him and displayed what appeared to be a black colored handgun.

The subjects’ took the victim’s backpack and cellular phone and left the area in a white colored Jeep that possibly had WI registration starting with 601, and was last seen westbound on route 173 from the area.

Bob Anderson Tax Revolt Spreading

A press release from Illinois Tax Revolution – Saving Illinois:

Citizens Join Across Counties To Send A Message About Taxes

WOODSTOCK, IL – A small, but growing group of local citizens have joined forces to send a message to legislators and local officials about their taxes. The message is simple,

“We can’t pay any more taxes than we already are and if you don’t do something serious to improve the situation, you will lose our votes”.

The movement grew out of a protest in McHenry County on June 13th where two people paid their taxes entirely in singles while a group of others gathered to voice their disgust about property taxes.

The group has taken the name “Illinois Tax Revolution – Saving Illinois” and is organizing taxpayer rallies. So far, there are three rallies planned; one in McHenry County, another in Lake County and a third in downtown Chicago.

Bob Anderson reflects on his over 50 years in Wonder Lake. He points out that people could buy a home in Wonder Lake for the $9,000 his tax bill is this year.

Bob Anderson reflects on his over 50 years in Wonder Lake. He points out that people could buy a home in Wonder Lake for the $9,000 his tax bill is this year.

The group has drawn support from a growing number of activist organizations and local office candidates and encourages others to contact the organization to show their support.

“This is all about giving the overburdened taxpayer an opportunity to have their voices heard”, said Bob Anderson, Chairman of the Group’s Steering Committee.

“We hope that taxpayers and local officials will join us at the rallies in a gesture of solidarity and commitment to addressing the crippling problem of taxes in our communities”, said Bob.

For those that cannot attend in person, the group offers “One-Page Petitions” that individuals can fill out and send back to the group. These will be brought to the rallies to represent those who cannot make it to the events.

For more information, visit IllinoisTaxRevolution.com.

Date of local rally:

McHenry County

WHEN:
August 31, 2016, 11:00 AM

WHERE:
County Treasurer’s Office
2100 N Seminary Ave
Woodstock, IL 60098

Veterans Assistant Commissioner Rebuts Democratic County Board Member’s Allegation about Mistreatment of Veterans at Valley Hi

Veterans Assistance Commission Executive Superintendent Mike Iwanicki replied to a blog post by District 1 Democratic Party Board candidate Kerri Barber at Tuesday’s County Board meeting.

Barber attacked the County Board for zeroing out the $3 million Valley Hi tax on this year’s tax bills, an initiative of GOP County Board Chairman candidate Mike Walkup that cut county government’s share of the tax bill by about 4.6%.

Later she doubles down by writing, “We all want lower taxes, but not at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens.”

A bumper sticker produced by GOP State Rep. candidate Steve Reick.

A bumper sticker produced by GOP State Rep. candidate Steve Reick.

She offers no indication of how not taxing residents an extra $3 million hurt veterans or other “vulnerable citizens.”

Most of the $3 million, Barber does not seem to understand, would have all gone to increase the over $40 million balance in Valley Hi bank accounts.  ($41.7 million as of last week.)

She writes, “$3M is about 11 cents a day for you and I to support 149 hard working, highly skilled employees and their families plus an entire facility of disabled vets and seniors at the Valley Hi facility – just 11 cents.”

No seniors received less service nor employees lower salaries because the $3 million was not levied.

She also argues that the $3 million should have been extracted (my word, of course) from taxpayers this year because “the facility is in need of vital repairs that have been put off for some time.”

No specifics are mentioned.

Veterans Assistance Commissioner Joe Kersten of Woodstock read the following statement from Iwanicki during the Board’s public comment period:

Mike Iwanicki’s Statement on Veterans Being Mistreated at the Valley Hi Nursing Home

The Veterans Assistance Commission is a local government agency which represents a partnership between the veterans’ service organizations within the County and the McHenry County Board.

The resulting central benefits office is tasked with providing financial support to our struggling veterans and their families, or surviving spouses.

Per the Illinois Military Veterans Assistance Act which origins date back to 1895, the VAC office is also tasked with providing other services as needed within our local veteran’s community such as VA Claims assistance and Transportation to the VA Hospital.

The Veterans Assistance Commission is non-political, so it concerns me (typically during election years) that public statements are freely made that somehow lead the listener or reader to believe that somehow my veterans are being victimized by an uncaring anti-veteran, anti-elderly local politician or most recently County Board.

Valley Hi Nursing Home.

Valley Hi Nursing Home.

Regarding Valley Hi, never mentioned is the loving compensate care given my veterans by Valley Hi Staff, ignored is the incredible transformation from what Valley Hi was to what it is today thanks to strong leadership and the caring people of this County.

Without hesitation, I completely trust Valley Hi with our disabled veterans and do not consider them victims of some careless budget slashing mob.

As far as budget cuts at the VAC Office…

These cuts were made by the Veterans Assistance Commission and not the result of being victimized by some money hording group of County Board members.

The reasons for the cuts include the success of the VA Health Administration, TLS Veterans, and the VAC Office with transitioning veterans from homelessness.

Additionally, the VAC Office also has been exceptionally successful with helping our disabled veterans prosecute their disability claims with the VA Benefits Administration for illness and injuries caused by their military service.

Budget cuts made by the VAC is the result of our success with helping our less abled veterans become more independent thus decreasing the burden on McHenry County taxpayers.

I understand the need for candidates and supporters to distinguish themselves but misinformed attacks only distract attention from the truly important issues.

As a non-political office the VAC is more than happy to share information with anyone, and there are issues within the veterans’ community that still need to be addressed.

The success of Valley Hi, or the VAC is not a problem.

If someone is truly interested in understanding our challenges please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call.

Cary Grade School District 26 Prepares for Little State Aid

The following was written by Cary Elementary School Board President Scott Coffey under the article about the high effective tax rates paid in McHenry County, compared to the rest of the Chicago Metropolitan Area:

Regarding General State Aid for Chicago vs the suburbs below are some observations:

1. For 2017, Chicago will receive $1.1 billion in GSA ($3,183/pupil) with $704 million (or 64%) coming from the Poverty Grant component of GSA and the remainder coming from the Foundation formula which is primarily driven by EAV.

2. Crystal Lake D-47 will receive $8.8 million in GSA (only $1,246/pupil) with $1.0 million (or 12.5%) sourced from the Poverty Grant formula and $7.8 million from the Foundation component which is driven by EAV.

The GSA formula is structurally designed to more heavily weight funding to the Poverty Grant component based on DHS Low Income counts.

Therefore, the big winners in GSA funding will be democrat controlled cities (i.e. Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, Elgin, etc.) given their high DHS Low Income counts.

Combine the GSA funding disparity with Chicago’s large EAV base and all the other funding Chicago receives from the State for categorical reimbursement and Federal sources, and you get a massive contrast in educational spending between Chicago and a suburban district.

Per ISBE, Chicago spends $9,778 per pupil on “Instructuctional Spending” alone.

Contrast that against local unit district’s spending rates of $4,879/pupil for Huntley 158 and $6,593 for Woodstock 200.

And this funding disparity will only grow worse as the legislature continues its efforts to modify state funding legislation to “re-distribute the wealth” away from the suburbs and send it over to Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, etc.

For my district, Cary #26, we’ve spent years driving our operating cost structure down with the expectation that we’ll have to fund operations primarily on local resources.

ISBE has already scored several proposals over the last couple of years, and I don’t think too many McHenry County districts avoid a painful hit.

County Board Considering Three “Organizational Values”

Proposed McHenry County Core Values.

Proposed McHenry County Core Values.

At the Thursday meeting of the McHenry County Board, the following “organizational values” will be considered by its Human Resources Committee:

  • Accountability. We take personal responsibility for achieving our objectives. We ask for help, admit to our mistakes and put things right.
  • Integrity.  We do what is right, not merely what is easy or expected, in all circumstances. We are honest and have strong moral principles. We do what we say we will do.
  • Respect. We treat all people in a manner that is courteous, attentive, and thoughtful. We do this regardless of the situation at hand, the rank or experience of the person, or any other distinguishing factor.

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I wonder where keeping taxes down fits in.

Message of the Day – A Butterfly

There certainly are many fewer monarch butterflies than in the past.

That’s too bad for many reasons, one of which is that the monarch is our state insect.

This monarch butterfly was attracted to my front yard last week.

This monarch butterfly was attracted to the milkweed in my front yard last week.

I remember the sponsor of the bill that granted that designation.

It was sponsored by State Rep. Webber Borchers, a really conservative Republican from Decatur.

A World War I Veteran and who had a real soft spot for those in nursing homes, Borchers went to a grade school one day.

He sitting on the stage while an upper level class–maybe 5th grade–presented him with arguments for make the monarch butterfly the state insect.

Borchers was clearly embarrassed at presenting such a minor bill.

The kids, who had colors pictures of monarchs and pasted them on the backs of cottage cheese container tops asked,

“Representative Borchers, will you please introduce our bills?

“What was I going to do?” Borchers explained to House members in 1975 while presenting his bill.

“250 beady eyes were looking up at me

“What was I going to do?”

The bill passed with youngsters from the school in the gallery.

Earlier they had passed out their colored monarch butterflies on the cottage cheese container tops to legislators in their offices.

Naturally, the bill passed.

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More on Webber Borchers softer side here.

Ray Flavin Kicks In $2,100 for His State’s Attorney Campaign

Ray Flavin

Ray Flavin

Democratic Party State’s Attorney candidate Ray Flavin has notified the Illinois State Board of Elections that he has written a check to his campaign fund for $2,100.

He indicates that it is an “in-kind” contribution.

That could be office space, signs purchased with a personal credit card, printing costs paid privately, etc.

When he opened his campaign fund, he reported having $5,000 on had.

Candidates don’t even have to file notice they have a campaign fund until they spend or raise $5,000.

Flavin is the Democrats’ second slated candidate.

No one ran in its Primary Election.

Flavin will face off against Republican Patrick Kenneally.

Nunda Township GOP Plans September Picnic at Veterans Acres

Under the leadership of Joe Gottemoller, the new GOP Chairman in Nunda Township, a picnic will be held at Veterans Acres on Saturdy, September 10th.

Details on the Nunda Township Republican Party Picnic on Saturday, September 10th.

Details on the Nunda Township Republican Party Picnic on Saturday, September 10th.

Proposed Changes in County Employee Health Care Plans

Here’s are the changes in health plans being proposed to the McHenry County Board’s Human Services Committee on Thursday:

2017 Changes to Medical Plans, Cost Sharing Percentages, and Incentives

Changes to Current Plans

Blue Cross of IL logoBCBS HMOBA

  • Increase Office Copays (Primary and Specialist) from $10 to $20 per visit.
  • Closed to non-union enrollees.
  • Non-Union employees already enrolled in the plan can remain in the plan.

BCBS PPO

  • No changes to the plan.
  • Closed to non-union enrollees.
  • Non-Union employees already enrolled in the plan can remain in the plan.

BCBS HDHP

  • No changes to the plan.
  • Incentives for non-union employees to enroll in this plan. (see below)
  • Dental No changes to the plan.

New Supplemental Plans

  • Accident EE has option to purchase additional supplemental plans; their cost.
  • Hospitalization EE has option to purchase additional supplemental plans; their cost.
  • Critical Illness EE has option to purchase additional supplemental plans; their cost.
  • Disability EE has option to purchase additional supplemental plans; their cost.
  • Vision EE has option to purchase additional supplemental plans; their cost.

Cost Sharing – All Plans

  • Employee Only 15% employee, 85% Employer (Employee Increase of 3% for HMO participants)
  • Employee + 1 20% employee, 80% Employer (Employee Increase of 3% for HMO participants)
  • Family 20% employee, 80% Employer (Employee Increase of 3% for HMO participants)

Non-Union Incentives to Participate in HDHP

Employee Only

  • County will pay the Employee’s full premium.
  • County will contribute $500 to employee’s Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • County will cover the cost of 2 supplemental insurance plans.

Employee + 1

  • County will contribute the Employee Only premium toward E+1 or Family premium.

OR Family

  • County will contribute $1,000 to employee’s Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • County will cover the cost of 2 supplemental insurance plans.