Bibb Commissioners voted to make several changes to county employees' insurance plans on Tuesday.
They also approved some incentives to encourage employees to be more active.
Blue Cross Blue Shield told commissioners that insurance costs will be $2 million higher in 2017 than in 2016.
Jimmy Hinson, a BB&T Consultant, says one of the main reasons the costs are so high is because of lot of county employees are going to the emergency room over an urgent care.
Commissioners approved raising the co-pay to use the emergency room. It varies depending on plans, but employees could see the cost go up anywhere from $50 dollars to $100 higher.
They also approved making the co-pay for an online service free to encourage more employees to use that before going to the emergency room.
Commissioner Virgil Watkins says being healthy is another way to help lower insurance costs.
“We found that a lot of that is real simple. Walking, exercising every day and the Fitbits give us a fun and useful way to track that information and also encourage it amongst our employees,” says Watkins.
In a unanimous vote, commissioners approved Watkin's plan for a healthy behavior incentive program. Employees that wear a device that tracks steps, like a Fitbit, are able to earn cash prizes based on how many steps they walk. For example, an employee that walks an average of 10,000 steps per day for two months gets $75.
“Improve morale and also change employee actions through and getting
He says the money will come from a section in the general fund allocated for programs like this, but he says they are also looking into several fitness grants.
Commissioners also approved a monthly lunch where they will discuss ways to stay healthy and lower insurance costs with county employees.
Commissioners took the first step toward adding a new one percent sales tax.
In a unanimous vote, commissioners approved having an outside legal group look at the county possibly implementing the tax, also known as OLOST.
Commissioner Gary Bechtel says as the sales tax brings in money it rolls back property taxes, up to seven mills.
But before people could see the tax, it has to go through the general assembly and then Bibb County voters would have to approve it.
The county attorney says it could be a month before the legal group looks over how this tax would affect the county.
Commissioners also approved spending $60,000 of SPLOST funds to create a plan for phase two of renovations.
Bibb County's Engineering Director, Dave Fortson, says their plan is to widen the road from Forsyth Road to Wimbish Road and create a middle turn lane.
Travares Warren lives off of the road and he says thinks this could help a lot with traffic.
“It would do good for the traffic to flow when people get over into the turn lane it’ll keep the traffic moving. It won’t be backed up or stopped nothing like that,” says Warren.
Fortson says it will take about a year to create the preliminary plans, and the work itself will not start for about three years.