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News General

Depleted reserve fund prompting policy changes.

With an insurance reserve fund dwindling with the likelihood that it would not survive another year, County Manager Derek Roland found himself scrambling to ensure county employees continued to be insured.

With just a little over a year on the job, Roland was faced with the dilemma of how Macon County was going to pay for its employees' insurance in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Based on the amount of money commissioners have been putting into employee insurance since 2008, and the amount of funds utilized annually from the county's insurance reserve fund, if things continue the way they are, Macon County will see a more than $1 million deficit in regards to insurance next year.

After months of meeting with the county's insurance agent, establishing a 10-person committee, and soliciting 10 different proposals from insurance providers, Roland presented commissioners with a complete overhaul of the county's insurance policy on Tuesday night. In total, the county's new insurance plan is going to come with an annual price tag of $3.8 million for the county's on average 408 employees, a $529,000 increase over what the county is currently paying.

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Policy institutes ‘due process’ prior to termination.

The North Carolina General Assembly has introduced legislation that will effectively end tenure for state teachers and move toward a pay-for-performance salary scale.

The process, which is expected to be fully implemented statewide by 2018, ultimately phases out longevity pay for teachers, resulting in some educators being denied the opportunity for due-process in the event that their employment is terminated.

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In the last five years, the Macon County Board of Commissioners has only passed one ordinance. That is, one law, one regulation, one instance in a five-year period that spans at least four different combinations of commission boards where both parties have been in majority control.

While only implementing one new ordinance, the ordinance banning tobacco use on all county property, the Macon County Board of Commissioners has made a habit out of reducing existing ordinances and regulations, a point both Commission Chair Kevin Corbin and Commissioner Ronnie Beale drilled home Tuesday night.

"Since I have been on this board, I can think of four or five times we have reviewed existing ordinances and actually reduced them," said Corbin. "I personally am a firm believer in fewer government regulations and making sure that property owners can do anything, within the scope of the law, that they want to do on their own property."

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By state statute, Macon County is responsible for providing funding for the Macon Campus of Southwestern Community College (SCC), and last year, Macon County did so to the tune of about $320,000.

While last year's county budget actually increased funds for expenses at the Macon Campus by about $40,000, the overall SCC allocation was decreased, something that apparently upset Jackson officials.

"I know the commissioners were disappointed with the $200,000 reduction in support by Macon County for SCC," said Jackson County manager Chuck Wooten. "I do believe there is concern among the [Jackson] commissioners with the idea of providing support to Macon following their action to reduce the support for the SCC budget."

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