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County prepares to sell public health building in Morris

The Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health building on Pacific Avenue in Morris will be put up for sale. The public health staff will be moving to the former Stevens County Human Services building on Highway 28.

Stevens County took steps to sell its public health building on Pacific Avenue in Morris.

The county's Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to have the building appraised before putting the building up for sale.

As part of its building project for the new courthouse, the county planned to move the staff of Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health to its Human Services building on Highway 28 after that department was relocated in the newly refurbished courthouse. The public health staff is expected to move to its new location at the end of April.

The county bought the building for $157,000 in 2001 and paid more than $43,000 for adjacent land and parking area, bringing the total to more than $201,000.

In its courthouse building and remodeling plans, the county budgeted revenue of at least $200,000 for the building.

Commissioner Larry Sayre, who does appraisals, said the building sale will be unique in that it is a well-constructed building that has few similarities with other commercial property in the area. The appraisal may be difficult since there are few commercial building sales in the county and comparisons will need to be made with properties in other areas, Sayre said.

In other county business:

0 The board voted to approve a new benefit policy for elected officials that begins immediately following the termination of their tenure in office.

The policy was changed after it was discovered that monthly payments to elected officials - which may or may not be used to buy individual health care insurance policies - would be considered a form of severance. Under state law, elected and former elected officials can't be paid severance.

Under the new policy, elected officials will be reimbursed for medical premiums at a maximum of $544 per month. The officials would be responsible for any costs exceeding that amount, and if premiums claimed are less than that, the excess funds are forfeited.

The policy was approved 3-2, with Ron Staples and Phil Gausman voting against the change. Both wanted the new policy to sunset, with only officials elected before March 15, 2011 eligible under the new policy.

To be eligible, elected officials must serve a minimum of 10 years. The elected officials receive 75 percent -- $544 -- of the $750 single-plan county employees receive monthly to pay for health insurance premiums.

The elected officials must provide documentation of the eligible premiums prior to the benefits being paid, and the policy does not reimburse them for out-of-pocket costs for pre-tax health plan premiums.

Elected officials receive reimbursements for 25 percent of the months of their tenure, meaning that a person who serves 10 years (or 120 months) would receive 30 months of payments. An elected official would have to serve 40 years to reach the maximum of 10 years - or 120 months - of contributions.