County seeks better premium

By Gabriel Monte: Freedom Newspapers

Fifteen minutes a week could save the county on insurance, officials say.

Curry County Commission approved a resolution at its meeting Tuesday to adopt a risk awareness training program for county employees.

Assistant County Manager Lance Pyle said the 15-minute weekly training classes could bring down the premium the county pays for workers compensation insurance.

“If our loss ratios go down, our insurance rates will stay the same or could go down,” he said.

Pyle said the county has paid a $100,000 annual premium for workers compensation insurance the last three years.

The training will last 50 weeks and cover a variety of issues such as slip and fall prevention, highway safety and sexual harassment. Pyle said some classes are tailored for a particular department.

Curry County joins eight other counties in the New Mexico Association of Counties in adopting the program.

Pyle said Curry County ranked fourth highest in April for most claims out of 29 counties that pay into a workers compensation pool.
Association risk manager and general counsel Steve Kopelman said Curry County had 21 claims in the 2006-2007 fiscal year.
Pyle said the majority of claims come from the detention department.

Pyle also noted indirect costs associated with claims such as processing time.

“The more claims we have the more paperwork and the more overtime that we have to pay the (human resources) department to administer that as well as the overtime cost for calling additional employees in to work when an employee is injured and not able to perform their duties,” he said.

In other business, commissioners:

•Renewed a contract with La Casa Buena Salud to provide primary health care to indigent county residents. Pyle said the county pays about 200 medical bills a month for indigent residents. The new contract stipulates that the county will pay 77 percent of the bills and the clinic will forgive the rest.

•Approved application for a grant to plant a tree mall on the Curry County Fairgrounds.