CASS COUNTY – Former Cass County Assessors’ Office employees are reviewing an agreement offered by the Cass County Conference Board at the end of September, in which $9,200 for their health insurance would be paid from the assessor’s budget until the end of the year. The board wanted to alleviate some of the financial hardship the employees are experiencing as one former employee’s family has a member suffering from cancer.
The conference board includes representatives from Cass County towns and schools, along with the Cass County Board of Supervisors.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Baier said the idea was suggested because of additional costs to the employees before they acquire other health insurance, and because federal COVID funds available for health insurance to employees who had lost their jobs were no longer available after the beginning of September.
At least two members questioned the plan, worried that it could “open up a can of worms,” and noted that the county employment handbook had rules against the idea.
Supervisor Bernard Pettinger read what the handbook said.
“In the handbook, it says employees on layoff are not eligible for the county group insurance programs. County paid insurance coverage terminates at the end of the month in which the employee ceases to be actively at work.”
Supervisor Steve Green made the motion to offer it to the employees because he said it was the right thing to do, and because the conference board is its own entity.
“This conference board is a separate entity,” Green said. “Any action it takes does not affect the other entities.I think what is being looked at here is just the financial hardship. For $9,200, we can soften that blow.It’s not only the right thing to do morally, but it is the right thing to do for former employees, which unfortunately, when we restructured, went by the wayside.”
Baier said the employees would have to sign an agreement if the idea was approved, and it could be written so no future claims could be made against Cass County cities and schools and the county itself.
“We can put language in the agreement that establishes that there’s no further claims or future claims against the cities, schools and county,” Baier said.
In August, the board approved hiring Mary Anstey as the Cass County Assessor after former assessor Brenda Nelson resigned to take a similar job in Ames. The board also approved restructuring the assessor’s office, which meant two employees were laid off, with their last day being Sept. 15. One of those employees was facing significant health care issues with the impending loss of health insurance.