WAYNESVILLE — Five new county employees were introduced to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners and an audience of about two dozen at the historic courthouse Monday morning, Oct. 7.

New hires for Haywood County Health and Human Services are Public Health Education Specialist Joanne Rinker, Community Employment Case Manager Kimberly Ward and Public Health Nurse Rachel Revis.

Now employed at Haywood County Sheriff’s Office are Detention Officer Shellie Long and Office Assistant Vincent Tropy Jr.

New health plan

Following a unanimous vote by the board of commissioners, Haywood County is switching health plan providers to Aetna, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead said the county went over-budget — spending close to $9.4 million — on its health plan in fiscal year 2018, and is budgeted to spend $10.1 million on healthcare in fiscal year 2019. Changing health plan providers should help reduce county costs down the road, Morehead said.

With Aetna, no changes will be made to employee co-pays or premiums, but some changes will be made to drug list tiers, inevitably disrupting some medications, Morehead said. Employees and retirees will have free access to CVS Minute-Clinics, along with other discounts negotiated by Aetna, one of the largest health insurance providers in North Carolina.

New intercoms

The commissioners approved $25,044 in county expenditures, providing 25 percent of the $100,176 necessary to replace the intercom systems for Tuscola and Pisgah high schools.

The current systems, which are essential elements of school safety, were installed in 1999, and glitches have prompted Haywood County Schools to pursue intercom replacements, with other funding coming from the state’s capital building fund, said HCS Associate Superintendent Trevor Putnam.

Maggie Valley gets a refund

The Town of Maggie Valley was refunded $105,965, representing the amount the town paid to the county as a contribution to the Jonathan Creek property that was originally designated for, but will no longer be used for parks and recreation.

Library fees

The commissioners approved an annual nonresident library card fee of $25 for out-of-county visitors to borrow materials and access digital services, similar to fees charged by other county libraries in North Carolina.

Benefits of tourism

As a result of Haywood County being ranked 28 out of 100 counties in the state for tourism expenditures, each county resident saved $276.84 in taxes in 2018, said Haywood County Tourism Development Authority Executive Director Lynn Collins.

“We had a good tourism year,” Collins said.

The next meeting of the Haywood County Board of Commissioners is in the historic courthouse at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21.

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