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County sees savings in insurance, jail vendor contracts

Published on -7/23/2014, 10:08 AM

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HUTCHINSON(MCT) — The Reno County Commission approved two contracts Tuesday that should save hundreds of thousands of dollars next year.
The board without discussion approved a new contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas for health and dental insurance for the contract year beginning Oct. 1.
As was previously reported, rates for the insurance declined an average 10 percent from the current of year, or more than $300,000 for the year.
The changes ranged from about 7.7 to 11.7 percent in reduced premiums, Personnel Director Renee Harris advised the commissioners. The new contract includes reductions in monthly rates for both the county and employees, Harris said.
More than 80 percent of the county's 375 full-time employees participate in the plan.
Commissioner Dan Deming noted at the start of Tuesday's meeting that the premium for one month of coverage was about $285,000.
"That's pretty impressive when you can save more than a month's premium," Deming said.
Officials credited the improved rates, a third consecutive year for a decline, on reduced claims being filed and high participation in the county's wellness program.
The commission also approved Sheriff Randy Henderson ending a contract with the county jail's current commissary provider and going with a new vendor.
Jail Capt. Shawn McClay reported the county has been having issues with its current vendor, including "lots of trouble with money kiosks in the lobby of the LEC."
They've been soliciting bids for a commissary provider and received a bid from one company that will provide a number of additional services, including video kiosks that would go inside the new jail.
Currently the jail has 16 kiosks inmates access to order commissary supplies, while the new jail will have 14. The company, Turnkey, will provide 16, and allow the county to keep the extra two as backup machines, McClay said.
The company will also provide video visitor kiosks for the new jail. The jail plan calls for 10 kiosks, though the contractor indicated it will only need five. At a cost of $995 each, the company agreed to supply 10 and buy five back if they weren't needed, McClay said.
The video kiosks will allow both at-facility video visits with inmates, as well as Internet connections, allowing the public to visit inmates from home. The service, McClay said, will cost inmates about 25-cents per minute, which will go to the service provider.
The county will experience an estimated $80,000 to $90,000 in savings, County Administrator Gary Meagher said, by cutting supply of the kiosks out of the jail construction budget. Installing the visitor kiosks was part of the construction plan, but that cost will be eliminated, he said.
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(c)2014 The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.)
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