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Village of Colfax sends health insurance for 30-hour workers to committee

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  — The contract for 30-hour per week employees in the Village of Colfax says they receive no health insurance benefits.

The employee handbook approved by the Colfax Village Board says that 30-hour per week employees are eligible for health insurance.

After making — and then withdrawing — a motion at the January 26 village board meeting to offer health insurance to 30-hour per week employees with the village paying 80 percent of the insurance premium and the employee paying 20 percent, the Colfax Village Board decided to send the issue to the personnel committee.

Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, became aware of the situation when she learned that the contract for one of the Colfax Rescue Squad’s two 30-hour per week EMTs had expired, and she also checked the employee handbook for information about benefits.

The pertinent section of the handbook reads, “The village offers to all its regular full time employees and part-time employees working an average of 30 hours or more per week and their eligible dependents, group health coverage through the carrier selected by the village. A full time employee will pay 10 percent of the premium total, with the village paying the remaining 90 percent.”

The village board approved hiring two 30-hour EMTs with no insurance benefits to save money, said Beverly Schauer, village trustee.

The employee handbook approved by the village board this past September says that 30-hour per week employees do receive insurance, and the village could board pro-rate the insurance on a different percentage for 30-hour employees and 40-hour employees, Niggemann said.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, said he liked the idea of pro-rating the insurance premium.

The village board approved hiring two 30-hour EMTs to provide better coverage for the village and the surrounding area served by the Colfax Rescue Squad, said Mark Halpin, village trustee and chair of the public safety committee.

The two 30-hour employees, along with the volunteer EMTs, ensure that a crew will be available when the ambulance is called out, he said.

At the last public safety committee meeting January 22, Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, indicated that Colfax has lost some EMTs and was having difficulty filling up the roster again.

Since the rescue squad is experiencing difficulty getting EMTs, perhaps it would be a good incentive for the 30-hour EMTs to stay in Colfax if they are provided health insurance benefits, Halpin said.

Niggemann noted that there were parts of the wording in the manual she believed should be revised.

For example, the employee handbooks says “working an average of 30 hours,” and Niggemann recommended removing the word “average” since village employees are hired for 30 hours, 40 hours, or less than 30 hours.

The contract in question expired in October, and the insurance should be settled so a new contract can be issued, Niggemann said.

Several village board members wondered about the part-time seasonal employees hired for the department of public works who put in 30 hours a week or more than 30 hours.

Niggemann pointed out that those employees are seasonal and that insurance benefits, under the current wording of the employee handbook, would not apply because they are not permanent 30-hour per week employees in the way that the 30-hour EMTs are permanent employees.

The motion to offer insurance for 30-hour per week employees was withdrawn, and instead, the Colfax Village Board approved directing Niggemann to check with other municipalities about their policies for insurance benefits for 30-hour per week employees, to revise the pertinent section of the employee handbook and to send the issue to the personnel committee for review.

The Colfax Village Board’s personnel committee and the Colfax Village Board are one and the same, with all village board members serving on the personnel committee.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Approved a training request for Colfax Police Officer Michael Madrid to attend drug interdiction training at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake February 3 through February 5. The training will focus on identifying drugs, drug dealers, couriers, transportation methods, patrol, interview and investigative techniques, vehicle search methods and asset seizures and forfeitures.

• Approved a request for the Northern Wisconsin Show Circuit to use the Colfax Fairgrounds June 11 through June 13 for the prospect swine show. The event will allow 4-H and FFA members to show their swine projects before the fair season begins.

• Approved a request from the Colfax Sportsman’s Club to use the Colfax Fairgrounds May 9 for a swap meet.

• Approved the certified survey map recommended by the Colfax Plan Commission for the twin home lot on Iverson Road.

• Approved the Smart Growth Comprehensive Plan for 2014-2034 after Patrick Beilfuss of Cedar Corporation had updated the plan with the most recently available statistics and population information.

• Approved making a $50 donation to the Colfax After Prom Party Committee.

• Approved setting the town hall meeting to discuss the possibility of building a new library for February 25 at  7 p.m. at the Colfax High School cafeteria. Residents in the village of Colfax and residents from surrounding townships are encouraged to attend the meeting to express their opinions.