County tweaks health, vision coverage for employees

Aug. 17—Cullman County employees and their immediate families are getting a lift in their insurance benefits, thanks to the county commission's recent adoption of a new AirMedCare coverage component to their health plans.

At its regular meeting this week, the commission approved the addition of AirMedCare to employee benefits packages beginning at the Oct. 1 start of the upcoming 2023 fiscal year. County Human Resources manager Judy Bradford said the coverage will allow employees to participate in the emergency airlift plan, and will apply to employees as well as family members living in the same household.

The new benefit came amid a series of other measures the commission passed Tuesday relating to county liability, as well as employee health and retirement plans, most of which secured coverage for the coming year through current providers at no change in cost.

The commission renewed its self-insured county employee and retiree health plan, at level funding, to continue being administered through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. It also renewed employee life, short term disability, long term disability, and critical illness insurance with Mutual of Omaha at no change in rates for FY 2023.

One small change in health coverage will take effect in the coming calendar year: The county is switching its current vision care provider from Canopy Southland to VSP Vision, which will be administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama beginning Jan. 1 of 2023. Bradford said the new coverage will afford employees an enhanced vision plan compared with the current one, including better benefits and — because it brings employees' vision care claims under the Blue Cross umbrella — ease of use.

In other business at its regular meeting, the commission:

* Approved a renewal of the county's stop-loss catastrophic insurance plan through UnityRe, Inc. / Gerber Life Insurance Company, with no rate change the 2023 fiscal year.

* Approved a number of measures relating to the operating of the Cullman Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS), including the authorization of the service's annual agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation, with partial funding by the Federal Transit Administration, for the two-year fiscal period extending from 2023 to 2025.

* Approved the ordering of seven new transit vans for CARTS in the total amount of $599,991, with the matching portion of local funds totaling $120,001.

* Approved the surplus of seven buses from the CARTS service, to be used by other agencies that participate in the Federal Transit Administration's 5311 rural transportation program.

* Changed the speed limit along County Road 34 in southwest Cullman County to 25 mph.

* Approved a request from Cullman Regional Airport to apply for state and federal matching funds for airport improvement projects for the com

* ing 2023 fiscal year.


* an increase in the per diem meal allowance for county employees on approved business from $20 per half day / $45 per full day to $25 per half day and $55 per full day.


* an increase from $15,000 to $20,000 in the county's purchase allowance for budgeted vehicles and equipment, at the request of facilities and equipment manager Shane Bailey.


* a $47,890 renovation project for the cabin at Clarkson Covered Bridge, with the work awarded to Birmingham-based Strada engineering and consulting. The renovation work is contingent on pending approval from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs that the project may be paid out of the county facilities budget.


* the purchase of two split mini air conditioning units, not to exceed $7,000 in cost, from the OMNIA Partners national cooperative purchasing program for the old county-owned Board of Education building at 4th Avenue NE in Cullman.


* the adoption of GPS guidance services for county vehicles via the Sourcewell cooperative purchasing program, at a cost of $17.45 per vehicle.

Approved a lease agreement with Enterprise for seven 2022 Dodge Ram 1500 Tradesman 4x4 Crew Cab trucks, to be used by the road department and county animal control, at a cost of $43,696.00 each.


* the installation of stabilizing porch piers for the south porch of the county water department building. The $9,600 project was awarded to Deep South Construction Pros to repair the structure, which has separated from the building due to ground subsidence.

* Approved the surplus of an assortment of items from Stoney Lonesome OHV Park, all of which will be sold at auction at

* Surplussed and declared as scrap two office equipment items from the Probate Office.

* Approved a plat proposal for the JMBL INC subdivision, a minor subdivision containing two Lots located along Alabama Hwy. 157 near Warehouse Discount Grocery.

* Awarded a bid to install automated rail switching equipment for the recreational train at Sportsman Lake Park, with the bid going to SDAC Rail Services in the amount of $58,142.72.

* Awarded a one-year pest control service bid to American Pest Control in the amount of $16,224.

* Awarded a bid for ongoing service to the vehicle fleet of the Cullman County Sheriff's Office and other county departments to Havoline Xpress Lube of Cullman.

* Proclaimed the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Cullman County.

* Approved the minutes of the commission's July 19 regular meeting, as well as its specially-called Aug. 2 meeting.

The next commission meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. in the commission meeting room of the Cullman County Courthouse. A 4 p.m. public work session will precede the meeting.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.