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Date for vote is now official

By By BILL CRIST Publisher
On the same day that Gov. Bob Riley signed stripped-down state budgets for the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund, the Escambia County Commission approved a resolution calling for a countywide ad valorem tax vote on Dec. 9.
Broox Garrett, attorney for the school systems, addressed the commission once it reconvened last Monday's recessed meeting.
Garrett said he had also included a petition calling for the vote that included 670 names and that at least 200 of the signers were registered to vote in the county.
The commission adopted the resolution setting the vote for Tuesday, Dec. 9.
The proposal is actually two-fold, with part of the vote renewing an existing 3-mill education tax and the other, which is a 10-mill increase in the ad valorem tax.
Although not on the original agenda, the commissioners also approved implementing a "cafeteria" plan for the county employee insurance program.
According to county administrator Tony Sanks, the reason the plans are referred to as cafeteria plans is because employees can pick and choose the types of insurance policies they want to purchase.
Stokes said that the increase in monthly premiums, which are going up $107,000 in the coming year, are hitting employees hard. The monthly increase on a family plan is $106.
With the cafeteria plan, employees will save money because the insurance premium deductions will be taken out before earnings are taxed. That will save most employees, who have family coverage, between $70 and $75 per month, Sanks said.
Stokes said it was important to come to a resolution, because the premiums would be rising on Oct. 1.
Commission chairman Larry White expressed reservation at implementing the plan that quickly, though.
Sanks recommended AFLAC to administer the plan, which it will do at no cost to the county. However, any insurance company will be able to offer its products to employees.
Commissioner Todd Williamson agreed.
Stokes' motion to name AFLAC administrator of a plan for the county was approved by a 4-1 vote. White voted against the motion.