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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Village employees in Colfax will now receive a total of $1,000 per year put into a Health Savings Account (HSA) for them.
The Colfax Village Board approved another $500 contribution per employee at the January 14 meeting.
“The $500 is great, but the deductible has gone up $1,000,” said public works employee Don Logslett.
Logslett agreed to speak to the village board on behalf of the village’s employees.
The employees, Logslett said, were asking the village board for an additional $500 per employee in their health savings accounts to help cover the additional cost of the deductible.
The Colfax Village Board approved a different option with the Western Wisconsin Municipal Consortium WEA Trust for employee health insurance in November that was expected to save the village about $10,000 per year.
The new insurance increased the deductible by $1,000 for an individual within the network to $3,000 and increased the deductible by $2,000 for the individual to $6,000 out of the network.
The family deductible increased by $2,000 in the network to $6,000 and by $4,000 out of the network to $12,000.
The option includes an “embedded” Health Savings Account, and the village board also approved putting $500 for each employee into the HSA accounts at the November meeting.
Employees must pay 100 percent of their health care costs out of pocket until the deductible is met, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
The village employees presented their formal request in writing to the village board.
According to the request, the village is saving $19,287.07 per year in health insurance premiums with the new option.
The current total HSA contribution is $4,000, bringing the savings down to $15,287.07.
The additional proposed contribution would still leave the village with a savings of $11,287.07.
Village Trustee Margaret Burcham asked how the requested contribution would affect the 2019 budget.
The village board put money into a capital projects account, Niggemann said.
To the best of Niggemann’s recollection, the amount for capital improvements was $13,000.
Mark Halpin, village trustee, said his concern was that the HSA contribution would have to be evaluated every year in the likelihood insurance premiums would continue to increase.
“Insurance never goes down,” he said.
David Wolff, village trustee, said he was concerned about employees moving on to other jobs where the benefits packages are better.
Eight employees and an additional $500 per employee “is manageable right now,” he said.
Putting more money into an HSA for the employees is a small way to say the employees are appreciated, Wolff said.
Gary Stene, village president, said he, too, was concerned the village would be faced with employees leaving to take other jobs for more money and better benefits.
Several village board members noted Colfax recently lost an employee for exactly those reasons — a higher rate of pay and better benefits.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to put an additional $500 in the Health Savings Accounts for employees and that the HSA contributions would be reviewed as needed.