County employees nearing retirement will have a narrow window to be grandfathered in and exempt from retirement criteria updates.
The Commissioners’ Court made a revision to the retired employee definition in 2018 that shifted eligibility qualifications going forward for health and dental benefits under the Ector County employee health benefit plan.
The revision stated that in addition to meeting the Texas County and District Retirement System’s retirement definition, a retiring employee must have a minimum of 12 years of service with Ector County to qualify for retiree insurance benefits.
The change went into effect at the beginning of this year and increased the minimum years of service needed by four years.
“It doesn’t affect their receiving retirement benefits, their pension, through the Texas County and District Retirement System,” Ector County Human Resources Director Pat Patton said. “It would only enable them to continue county insurance benefits if they have extended service with the county.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Childers said unexpectedly rescinding those benefits was not fair to a number of employees who were approaching eight years of service.
As a result, a solution brought to commissioners was to offer a policy as an option for select county employees to be grandfathered in.
“What the insurance committee discussed and are proposing at this time is basically a two-year grandfather period because obviously there are people that are caught right at the border where they could retire or soon could retire under that old plan,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Simmons said during the regularly scheduled meeting.
The insurance committee’s proposed modification was approved by commissioners Tuesday.
County employees will now have until Jan. 1, 2021, to retire with county insurance benefits without having to meet the revised requirements.
Patton said the revision did not impact those who were already retired or employees hired in the last few years. She said previous action taken by the Court left employees hired after Oct. 1, 2015 without access to county insurance benefits upon retirement as a cost-cutting measure.
“Our turnover has been easily 20 percent every year,” Patton said. “We have a lot of new people that are not going to be eligible for insurance anyway as a retiree.”
There are about 225 county employees with eight years of service with the county and about 113 people with 12 years of service as of December 2018.
“There are so many that already meet the qualifications and it comes down to whether they want to go ahead and retire now or not,” Patton said. “They might continue to work on in their 60s and 70s.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS, COMMISSIONERS:
- Approved a resolution declaring this week as National Police Week and May 15 as Peace Officer’s Memorial Day in Ector County.
- Authorized Memorial Day firework sales from May 22 through midnight May 27.
- Approved a request from Downtown Odessa, Inc. to use the Ector County Courthouse lawn for a Children’s Area for the annual Firecracker Fandango festival on July 4, 2019.
- Approved the purchase of a two-year-old, dual purpose K-9 from K-9 services in Albuquerque, NM.
- Accepted the donation of a piano from Donna Greaves for the Ector County South Side Senior Center.
- Approved the Ector County Library Summer Reading program for 2019.
- Approved a collaboration effort between Texas Tech University Health Science Center – Permian Basin and Ector County Health Department to provide sexually transmitted disease education, testing and treatment.
- Authorized the acceptance of insurance proceeds from Travelers – St. Paul and Marine in the amount of $26,169.63 per Total Loss Declaration by Travelers of Unit No. 1070 Sheriff’s Office Vehicle.
- Approved salary adjustment to two County Extension Agents based on Interlocal Agreement between Ector and Midland Counties approved February 12, 2019.
- Approved the closure of Coliseum Drive to accommodate needed storage for the construction of the Coliseum Horse Stall Barn and allow for future expansion of the complex.
- Approved allowing the building maintenance director and coliseum director to expend contingency money allocated in the Coliseum Horse Stall Barn Project as needed to prevent construction delays and report back to the court at the next Commissioners’ Court meeting immediately following any contingency expenditures.
- Approved a request from the Plains All American Pipeline to close a section of West Hillmont Road (from Sprague Road to Mary Francis Avenue) for final soil remediation due to previously released crude oil, and for the restoration and pavement of the said section of the road in accordance with Ector County Standards.
- Approved a request from the Nexius Solutions to temporary close a section of 64th Street (from Moss Avenue to Mundy Drive) for the installation of a mount on the cell phone tower, located approximately 577 feet west of Moss Avenue.
- Approved declaring as surplus, the disposition, and the donation of two truck beds to Medical Center Hospital Health Systems (MCHHS), and to accept the donation of two medical room exam tables from MCHHS.
- Approved the following bid specification: Highways & Streets – Metal Shed Covers for Equipment.
- Approved awarding the purchase of computers and monitors.
- Approved the AIA Change Order No. 16 for the Jail Additions and Renovations Project.
- Approved the Inter-Local Government Agreement between the City of Odessa and Ector County for M-Core Radio Communication System.
- Approved a Claims Audit Service Agreement with J. Graham, Inc.
- Approved terminating the contract with Reece Albert, Inc. for the 56th Street project.
- Approved declaring an emergency to hire a County Extension Agent that will be shared between Midland and Ector County.
- Approved hiring a Legal Secretary at a Step 6 due to experience.
- Approved Proposed MHRC Mares Group RV Park at 15405 S. Mares St., Odessa, Texas, 79766 Ector County.
- Approved Ocean Front Property Odessa MHRC on West Murphy Street, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved MHRC Development to serve 536 E. Blue Diamond Street 5.0520 acre lot located in Nolan Acres Subdivision, Block 13, Lots 29-32, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved Replat of 4.00 acres of Lot 1, Block 14, Nolan Acres, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved MHRC Fugit RV Park at 5306 N. Washington Ave., Odessa, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved MHRC to serve Lot 1, Block 1, Tres Cruces Subdivision being a Replat of Lot 13 less than .4I4 acres, Block 28, Gardendale Subdivision 2nd Filing in Section 12, Block 42, T-1-S, T&P RY. CO. Survey, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved Swinney RV Park MHRC development to serve 16117 S. Golden Ave., Ector County, Texas.
- Approved a line item transfer to General Fund, Non Departmental Other, Other General Expense, 001-950-5402 from Retirement, 001-950-5123 in the amount of $907.
- Approved a line item transfer to General Fund, Court at Law No. 1, Professional Dues and Fees, 001-140-5302 from General Fund, Court at Law No. 1, Telephone, 001-140-5351 for $70.
- Approved a line item transfer from 001-023-5161, Educational Travel to 001-022-5161, Educational Travel in the amount of $400.
- Approved a line item transfer to FMLR Fund, Road Maintenance Department, Improvements and Construction, 002-810-5509, in the amount of $700,000 from FMLR Fund, Road Maintenance Department, Road Maintenance, 002-810 -5241 in the amount of $700,000.
- Approved a budget amendment to Coliseum Fund, Contract Services, 041-860-5309 and to Coliseum Fund, Hotel/Motel Tax, 041-4005 for $30,000.
- Approved a budget amendment to General Fund, Jail Medical, Drugs and Medical Expense, 001-421-5182 and to General Fund, Inmate Medical Fees, 001-4165 for $800,000.
- Approved a budget amendment to Coliseum Fund, Building Materials, 041-860-5241 and to Coliseum Fund, Insurance Proceeds, 041-4172 for $13,201.
- Approved the Accounts Payable Fund Requirements Report.