Cumberland Times-News

December 28, 2013

County officials improve employee program

Policy change could bolster participation, says human resources director

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Improving flexible health spending accounts for employees was among several actions recently taken by Allegany County Commissioners.

The program is “very valuable for our employees,” said Brian Westfall, the county’s director of human resources. The program increases net income by lowering taxes since the funds are taken from pre-tax earnings. The funds can be used for tax-free out of pocket health care costs, including babysitting and day care for children under 13 or family members who are disabled, Westfall said.

The program was established in 2007.

Although the fund amounts employees can put away have been reduced to $2,500 per year, new federal rules will allow employees to carry over up to $500 a year. That carry over wasn’t possible until the change in rules for the coming year.

The county is hoping more employees will now participate in the program, Westfall said. The program’s growth has been incremental, adding 38 employees for 2014, an increase of 30 percent, Westfall said.

“We still don’t have the participation I would like to see,” Westfall said. Commissioners agreed to the changes to bring county policies in line with the new federal rules.

Commissioners also agreed to provide drivers to the Bowman’s Addition Volunteer Fire Department to help them with supplemental manpower. The county has employed emergency medical service providers since 2006, and most work out of the volunteer departments. Recently, Bowman’s Addition asked for drivers to be placed at their station, said county Director of Emergency Services Dick DeVore.

The drivers will be county employees and all payroll expenses will be paid by the Bowman’s Addition department to the county. The county will provide standard issue equipment to the drivers, DeVore said. Those equipment and uniform costs are already budgeted, DeVore said. The county will sign an agreement with the department to provide the services.

Commissioners also recently made an appointment to the county’s Solid Waste Management Board. The board has 15 members and had a vacancy for an Allegany County Chamber of Commerce representative. Stuart Czapski was appointed to the voluntary position. Maureen Brewer will serve as Czapski’s alternate.

Commissioners took the actions at a recent public business meeting at the county office complex on Kelly Road.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.