Davison County expands housing commission; assistance to be available outside of MitchellAction by the Davison County commissioners Tuesday to establish a new Davison County Housing and Redevelopment Commission means federal housing assistance could be available to residents outside of Mitchell early next year.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Action by the Davison County commissioners Tuesday to establish a new Davison County Housing and Redevelopment Commission means federal housing assistance could be available to residents outside of Mitchell early next year.
Working quickly during their regular weekly meeting at the courthouse, the commissioners held a public hearing to establish the new housing commission; appointed the first members of the commission; and signed a joint-powers agreement with the Mitchell Housing Authority that will allow the authority to expand its services countywide.
Mitchell Housing Authority Executive Director Tammy Frost told the commissioners last week that federal rental assistance vouchers are going unused because Mitchell has a shortage of qualifying rental units.
Expanding the MHA’s authority will open up a broader pool of housing options, she said.
“Last Wednesday, our phone rang off the hook,” Frost said. The calls were from people who live outside Mitchell who were seeking rental assistance.
The commissioners also appointed five members to the new housing commission. Commissioner Jerry Fisher will serve as chairman; Commissioner David Wietala, for two years; local Realtor Cindy Hockett for three years; attorney Doug Dailey for four years; and Mitchell businessman Reg Young, for five years.
Frost said the agreement signed Tuesday must be reviewed by Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Taylor and then forwarded to HUD attorneys for approval before the rental assistance can be expanded beyond Mitchell city boundaries.
In other business, the commissioners learned that health insurance premiums will rise for the county and its employees next year.
The county’s Dakotacare insurance premiums will go up in 2012 because the county’s insurance group had 33 substantial claims in 2011, said Dan Sudrla, a member of the county employees’ insurance committee. About 66 county employees use the county health plans.
The county has paid around 80 percent of employees’ premiums, but it appears from material handed out Tuesday that percentage will increase.
The committee worked to keep premiums as low as possible under the higher rates, he said, but employee deductibles, co-insurance and premiums will increase.
Overall county insurance costs will go up 20 percent next year.
On Tuesday, the commissioners voted unanimously to add $42,000 — or an additional 10 percent — to bolster a previously budgeted 10 percent increase for 2012.
Auditor Susan Kiepke said the county paid $412,940 in 2011 to cover employee health insurance costs, and it will pay $495,521 next year.
Kiepke said the insurance committee attempted to keep premiums as low as possible by using part of the county’s flex contribution to offset the higher insurance premiums. That will leave less flexible medical spending to pay for employee health options such as eyeglasses and prescriptions.
“It’s ugly no matter how you look at it,” Kiepke said, “but we’re grateful to have health insurance”
Sudrla said the rising premiums mean employees will end up with less available cash for other family expenses each month.
Register of Deeds Deb Young said she remains hopeful that a year of fewer claims in 2012 might lower future premiums.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners:
• Approved the hire of Bridget Larson as a deputy treasurer at the recommendation of Treasurer Brenda Sanders.
• Acknowledged receipt of a general fund surplus analysis submitted by Kiepke. The report shows the county had an unassigned general fund balance of $2.014 million on Sept. 30, or a general fund surplus of 25.63 percent, an amount under the 40 percent maximum surplus established by state law.