HARRISON – The Clare County Board of Commissioners heard some especially good news when County Administrator Lori Phelps gave her report during the December BOC meeting. She began by noting that Senate Bill 1222-23 amended the state convention facility’s authority to extend the sunset of the state liquor tax revenue for counties, which would mean that, beginning in 2023, the baseline allocation in liquor tax dollars for Clare County will increase by about 48%. Phelps said that comes out to an additional $49,074 and that the county had received $103,337.
Phelps also reported that the County Veterans Fund, established by the Michigan State Legislature in 2018, was created to encourage counties to establish and maintain veterans services offices. This fund assures counties are able to receive $50,000 plus additional funding based on the number of veterans residing within the county. She said counties must maintain a veterans service level of 70% of the 2017 funding level – a program which was supposed to expire, but has now been extended by H.B. 6377 and beyond.
“So, this year we received the $50,000 but they also had another fund that they put out there,” Phelps said. “And you had to have a population between 30,000 and 30,900 – and Clare County was the only county that qualified for that. We got an additional $71,000.”
She also spoke of a new package of bills which will place additional accounting burdens on counties as having been approved in the lame duck session. That legislation deals with solid waste management, and the county will be required to create a materials management plan which must be submitted for approval through EGLE (Environment Great Lakes and Energy), as well as township officials.
“And it is going to cost us money,” Phelps said. “It looks as if we will have to, as a county, create recycling and re-use opportunities, including electronics.”
She said she had been in contact with Commissioner Rick Fancon regarding that issue, and they would be working on a plan.
Phelps then moved on to employee prescription costs, and noted that Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, more than $75,000 had been spent on prescriptions. She said that in the month of October alone, the prescription bill was $48,000. Phelps had explored other options, and found a plan which would substantially cut the cost of prescriptions to employees and the county.
“I feel we have no choice,” she said. “We looked at several companies and our drug history, and settled on a company called Smith Rx, affiliated with Good Rx.”
She explained that to ensure a smooth transition, a Smith Rx would be working with each of the employees, not just through the county’s new agent of record [Advanced Benefits Group]. Phelps also emphasized the importance of employees taking an active role in their prescriptions with their primary care provider to request, whenever possible, generic equivalents.
“The difference in cost is huge,” she said, going on to cite the example of the drug Prozac [which the current provider acquires internationally] at a cost of $2,200 per month. This is in comparison to a generic equivalent [which can be acquired domestically] through the new company at a cost of $7.
Phelps explained that the old company gets a percentage of the prescriptions, and the new company gets a set fee, i.e. $3, resulting in a huge difference compared to the old company’s 25%. Again, she stressed the need for committed participation by employees.
The good prescription news was followed by Phelps informing commissioners that as of the first of January, all county employees would have a set $0 copay for all regular doctor visits. There are some variations, such as seeing a specialist: an employee would have a $10 copay on the buy-out plan/$20 copay on the regular plan.
Phelps also informed that she is starting the budget for 2024, plans to do it a bit differently this year, and will bring information on that to the board in February. She also spoke of having completed and sent to the State Treasury the County Incentive Plan, which counties must submit annually by Dec. 1 in order to receive their full revenue sharing from the state. She then listed all the components of the CIP which includes County Incentive Plan certification; Citizens Guide which includes most recent finances and recognition of unfunded liabilities; Performance Dashboard; Debt Service Report of all funds, Projected Budget, etc. She noted that all this information is posted under “Transparencies” on the ClareCo.net website.
Phelps finished her report by recognizing departing commissioners.
“I’d like to say thank you to Bronwyn and thank you to Sandy for serving on our board and being involved,” she said. “All of us really appreciate your service.”
In his Chairman’s Report, Jeff Haskell spoke of attending the year-end MichiganWorks meeting in Gladwin, where Rodney Huntoon was the award candidate for Clare County. Huntoon had gone through training with the help of MichiganWorks, and has secured a job with GFL (Green For Life, formerly American Waste).
“It was a really neat thing,” Haskell said. “They helped him get his CDL … and once they got to know him and how hard he worked to get this – it’s a great success story.”
Haskell went on to describe how cooperative support provided by multiple agencies had resulted in making a good citizen even better by getting him a good job.
“He’s extremely excited,” Haskell said, holding up the publication he had brought with him, and noting it included a success story from every county. “It was kind of fun.”
Board members were also provided the Clare County Statutory Finance Committee and Clare County Board of Commissioners meeting dates for the coming year. The Finance Committee meets at 9 a.m. Mondays, Jan. 9 and 23; Feb. 6, 20; March 6, 20; April 3, 17; May 1, 15; June 12, 26; July 10, 24; Aug. 7, 21; Sept. 18; Oct. 2, 16, 30; Nov. 13, 29; and Dec. 11. Exceptions due to Monday holidays include Tuesdays, May 30, Sept. 5 and Dec. 26.
The BOC meets at 9 a.m. the third Wednesday of the month, with the exceptions of Nov. 8 (advanced due to deer season) and Dec. 13 (advanced due to the holiday schedule). There is also an additional Sept. 29 meeting for the last day of the fiscal year and approval of budget adjustments and any other business that must come before the board prior to the fiscal year end.
All rescheduled or special meetings will be posted at the south entrance to the Clare County Building and online at clareco.net.
The next meeting of the Clare County Board of Commissioners will see four new commissioners taking their seat at the table. They include Marlene M. Housler (District 1), David A. Hoefling (District 5), Gabe Ambrozaitis (District 7) and George Gilmore (District 8). That meeting is slated for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 and is expected to convene in the renovated Commissioners Board Room in the Clare County Building.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here