ZACHARY — The Zachary Community School Board adjusted its budget proposals to cover big increases in health and property insurance premiums for the next school year.
The premium cost for Blue Cross health insurance is increasing by 30 percent for the school year that begins Sunday, insurance consultant Mitzi Gregory told the board.
The cost of insuring the district’s facilities, valued at more than $100 million, in 2012-13 more than doubled to a total of $346,000, Finance Director Gordon Robertson said.
“We’ll have to ride it out for a year and see what happens,” he said, adding that proposed deductibles would expose the board to excessive risk.
The board dropped its contribution to employee health insurance from 72 percent of each premium to 68 percent, but the total increase to the school system still amounted to $838,481, according to figures presented during the board’s meeting Thursday night.
An employee with no coverage for dependents will pay $174.92 per month, up from $118.26. An employee with family coverage will pay $498.48 per month, up from $337.03.
The plan’s benefits will remain the same, Human Resources Director Yolanda Williams said.
Gregory said the school district had $5.4 million in claims last year but paid only $3.4 million in premiums.
Robertson offered the board a possible $840,000 combination of revenue increases and expense cuts to offset the health insurance increase.
They include $145,000 more in revenue if the board agrees to take advantage of higher property assessments by leaving its millage at the same rate as last year. Robertson said he also expects the state to increase its Minimum Foundation Program allocation by $245,000 because of enrollment growth.
Expenses for textbooks, the school lunch program, vehicle and equipment rental, and legal fees for debt service will be cut by a total of $550,000.
After settling on a health insurance option, the board accepted Robertson and the Finance Committee’s proposed general fund budget for the new year, which is balanced at $47 million in both revenue and expenses.
Board attorney Lonny Myles, who was instrumental in starting the school system, said the $47 million budget contrasts sharply with the early financial picture. “When we first started, we didn’t know where we would get $400,” he said.