Health Care Exchange Drives Junior High Budget

DERBY - The initial budget proposal for fiscal year 2013/14 is expected to increase by 6.2%, or $85,000 over the current fiscal year. The NCU Junior High School Board is concerned about the community response to the proposed budget increase. At the November meeting, board member Richard Nelson wondered, “What effect does the 14% increase in our health care budget have on our overall increase in the budget proposal?” This week the answer was quantified by BC/BS actuaries.Business manager Glenn Hankinson advised the board that the increase in BC/BS rates are due, “Mostly to the impact in federal mandates to underwrite the exchange. The estimate state wide for health care services for school employees this next fiscal year will rise to over $9 million.”Under the Affordable Care Act, states that choose to participate in the health care exchange format have to finance a one-time fee to pay to underwrite the program as it debuts in January 2014.A third of the proposed increase the school board is considering for the next school year represents a government mandated revenue increase, which the school board has to sell to the taxpayers as a part of the overall budget increase.Nelson wants to make it clear to the public, “A lot of this is out of our control. We want taxpayers to be aware of what is driving the increase.”The jump in health care costs following a five-year period of average annual increases of 2.9% complicates the Board's efforts to spend funds on other pressing issues. Currently the board is in the process of fixing heating and ventilation problems at the school, which is outdated and inefficient. Continued use of the antiquated system results in poor ventilation and “hot” and “cold” spots in the building. The inefficiencies are also costly to taxpayers in higher energy costs.