WORTHINGTON — On a 4-1 vote, Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday approved a change in county employee insurance for six of its seven unions and a non-union group.

The employee groups, with the exception of the union that represents nine public health employees, supported a move from the Southwest-West Central Service Cooperative to the state’s Public Employee Insurance Program (PEIP).

Commissioner Justin Ahlers, who voted against the change even though he personally wanted to switch to PEIP, said when the possible change was discussed, commissioners stated that all groups needed to agree in order to make the move.

“I think we need to stick to what we said,” Ahlers said. “I just question, should we be switching one group to their own plan? If something catastrophic happened within that one group, they would have premiums that would go through the roof.”

Nobles County Human Resources Director Sue Luing said there's something to say for moving mostly as a whole to the new provider. She told commissioners they could opt to allow the union of public health employees to revote on the matter, and said PEIP would be willing — since it is just nine employees — to allow them into the contract if they so choose, in advance of the Jan. 1, 2020 effective date.

“Six groups went in thinking this was the best deal,” said Commissioner Gene Metz. “By far, the majority of the groups want to go this way, and we should continue with the motion.”

He, along with commissioners Donald Linssen, Bob Demuth Jr. and Matt Widboom, voted in favor of the move, with Ahlers opposed.

A second motion, allowing the public health union to revote on the switch to PEIP, passed unanimously.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved a request for five-year tax abatement for LeWayne and Marsha Kopplow to construct a new home at 19177 300th St., Adrian.

  • Appointed Joseph Sanow as Nobles County Attorney, effective Oct. 1.

  • Authorized opening the county’s catastrophic medical leave sharing bank to allow employees to donate time to the bank. Employees who have exhausted annual leave may request catastrophic leave, and there is currently one employee who has requested hours from the leave bank.

  • Appointed Adam Henning to the Kanaranzi-Little Rock Watershed District. Henning will take the seat being vacated by Tim Taylor, whose term expires Oct. 7.

  • Appointed commissioners Matt Widboom and Bob Demuth Jr. to the W.E.L.L. (Welcome, Education, Livability and Learning) Project board, with the remaining commissioners appointed as alternates.

  • Recognized Amy Dykstra, accountant, with the August Excellence in Performance award.