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Employee raises, health insurance a concern in initial solid waste district budget

Apr 14, 2013 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Some members of the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Board and district superintendent Andy Frey began looking at a draft operating budget with the expectation of finalizing the figures in the coming months.

"We met with Andy, a team of us, and went through every item, and some adjustments were made," board member Rick Klaproth said at the district's March 18 meeting.

Member Mike Morgan piggybacked off the comment, detailing some of the specifics discussed at the budget meeting.

"I thought that we had a good discussion on how much money to put in the foreclosure fund," Morgan said, referring to money that has to be set aside to close the Lander landfill in 10 years.

Frey said later that he would not have specific budget numbers until the district knows what the mill levy value will be.

"It's all based on projections right now," he said. "Right now, we are waiting to hear more finalized numbers. ... It's a moving target. A lot of things that are in play right now will affect our operating budget."

This includes ongoing negotiations with the Wind River Indian Reservation concerning waste management. The tribes and the district entered into a six-month contract in December and continue to meet monthly to determine a permanent agreement.

Klaproth noted health insurance becoming more of a financial problem. There was also talk about employee raises.

Fremont County Commission chairman Doug Thompson, who serves as a liaison to the board, said the county has not offered

raises in the last two years nor has it added personnel to departments. A couple of elected officials, however, chose to "exert their elected officials' muscles" and do so, Thompson added.

He agreed about health insurance being the "biggest concern," detailing a recent commission meeting about the topic that lasted for two and a half hours.

Commissioners recently approved $800,000 more for its health insurance plan for next year.

"Health care is a significant cost to the county, and it hasn't gone down since I've been here," Thompson said.

The commissioner encouraged the district to consider the change in assessed valuation, health care, wages and personnel situations when coming up with next year's budget.

Board member Steve Baumann asked Thompson about discussions concerning the current federal administration.

Thompson said "Obamacare" is costly.

"There's a lot of provisions being kicked in as we read the document," he continued. "It's costing us."

Thompson continued the discussion about health care, saying the county is trying to make an extra push to be better consumers of health care as a way of reducing costs to the system.

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