Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Pine Co. shops for health insurance


September 6, 2018

Pine County is shopping around again for insurance for its employees.

It was reported at the Pine County Board of Commissioners meeting August 21, that insurance was expected to increase 9 percent next year. County Administrator David Minke explained that anything over 8 percent means the county will have to reopen contracts regarding health insurance according to their collective bargaining agreements.

In an email Monday, Minke explained that Commissioner Steve Hallan of Pine City, the county’s insurance consultant Justin Kroeger, Resource Training & Solutions, a cooperative Pine County uses for health insurance, and Blue Cross met Thursday, August 16. He said, based on the claims data, the county wanted to see if the insurance increase could be brought down to not more than 6.5 percent. As of the morning of the board meeting, Resources and Blue Cross had not responded positively on the reduction, Minke said.

During the meeting, Commissioner Matt Ludwig of Sandstone said, “It might be smart to put out for bids.” He did recognize that might mean a change in insurance companies for employees.

Minke said that employees might like their current plan and be willing to pay more to keep it.

The issue was to be discussed Wednesday by the insurance committee which is made up of county employees and Commissioner Hallan. Hallan and Ludwig said they would encourage employees to go out for bid.

Minke said in the email the county is advertising for bids, and after the committee met last Wednesday, Kroeger has received additional information from Resources and Blue Cross. Minke stated he and Jackie Koivisto, the county’s human resources manager, will meet with Kroeger Tuesday.

Zoning definitions needed

Ludwig reported there was good discussion with township representatives at a recent public meeting regarding county wide zoning. He said one topic of discussion was the variations for setbacks and reported that Kelly Schroeder, land services director, and Caleb Anderson, land and resource manager, would work on some definitions then send them out for feedback.

Ludwig said they are always grappling with the question, “Do we need to be limiting what somebody does on their land?”

He added, “Land use is going to change ... so you just try to do your best.”

Minke said when “the exception swallows the rule” and many variances are granted, then it is time to change the rule, adding that an ordinance should take away ambiguity.

East Central Regional


Commissioner Josh Mohr of Pine City reported the state has not come to the table to step up funding for regional libraries. He said the library board took some money out of reserves to cover the increased expenses, but it was not a good trend.


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