The Sauk County Board will get a report from administrative staff next month on revelations that the county has until recently contributed more toward its employee health plans than its ordinance allows.
Board Chair man Marty Krueger told fellow supervisors Tuesday night that the Personnel Committee will discuss the matter Jan. 12, and the full board will get an update during its monthly meeting four days later.
The issue came to light in November after employees noticed dramatic changes to their monthly insurance premiums and contacted board members. Administrative staff then acknowledged that they had changed the calculation by which the county determines its contribution toward employees’ premiums.
An ordinance says the county’s share shall be limited to 88 percent of the least expensive policy option. The dollar amount that results from that calculation establishes the county’s maximum allowable contribution to the premiums of full-time employees.
Administrative staff said that in recent years, the county has based its 88 percent share on a policy option that is not the least expensive.
That has caused the county to make larger contributions than the ordinance allowed. As a result, the share employees have been asked to pay was less than it should have been.
In an article Saturday, the Baraboo News Republic confirmed that the county has contributed nearly $1 million more toward employee plans than allowed by the ordinance over the last three years.
Administrative staff verified that figure, but disputed that the dollar amount should be characterized as an over-contribution. They say it’s likely that county legal staff simply interpreted the ordinance differently in recent years, but have not provided evidence to support that suggestion.
An Oct. 30 legal opinion by Interim Corporation Counsel Deb O’Rourke confirmed that the calculation the county previously used did not comply with its ordinance.
Despite that, Administrative Coordinator Alene Kleczek Bolin has said that she believes the ordinance “was followed in the past.” She bases that statement on the assumption that legal counsel previously interpreted the ordinance differently, but intended to follow it.
Krueger provided more commentary on the matter during a radio interview Wednesday morning with WRDB 1400 AM, in which he seemed to acknowledge that the prior calculation was at odds with the ordinance.
“Very simply, for a period of time — and that’s one of the things we need to find out is exactly how much time — the majority of our employees had less deducted for health insurance than they should have,” he said.