County panel approves better insurance plan

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Douglas County could expand the benefits available to the county board chairman.

After the issue was referred back to the Executive Committee, the panel opted to expand the options for health and dental insurance — at the same cost any county employee would pay — for the county board chairman to include family coverage.

Supervisor Sue Hendrickson advised committee members that it is the position, not a specific individual, who would benefit from the decision. By restricting the coverage to the board chairman plus one family member, she said it could make it difficult for someone with a family to accept the leadership role on the board.

Supervisor Doug Finn, who long served as the board chairman, said he was a bit reticent to consider the change after the county board last month eliminated protective status for Douglas County jailers, which affects their retirement.

The panel — less County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert, who abstained from the vote and discussion — unanimously approved extending coverage to the chairman effective Jan. 1 if approved by the Douglas County Board when it's scheduled to meet Dec. 21.

The county budgeted for its share of the health insurance costs if expanded to cover the chairman and his or her family, according to Anne Doucette, interim county administrator.