Questions of the Week — Readers ask about county benefits, library payments, voting registrations

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The following questions were asked by inquiring readers:

 

Q: The county commissioners referred to the benefits package offered to county employees several times during their budget session, as another form of payment to employees beyond their wages. Can you tell us what kinds of benefits are offered by the county?

A: Regarding health insurance, the county currently holds health insurance through Medica. Options for spouse, children and family plans are available with the county paying a portion of the monthly premium (based on the option chosen by the employee). The following are the details, per month: PPO Plan Employee Only, $50; Employee/Spouse, $550; Employee/Children, $500; Employee/Family, $900. HSA Plan, Employee Only $0; Employee/Spouse, $550; Employee/Children, $500; Employee/Family, $900. The County contributes $100 per month to a HSA account if this plan is selected

The county retirement plan is mandatory and is administered by Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems. The employee contributes 4.5% and the county matches that at 150%, contributing 6.75% each pay period. After three years of employment, the employee is 100% vested in retirement.

The county provides a $15,000 life insurance policy for each full-time employee.

Paid time off benefits: Full-time employees are eligible for sick leave, vacation leave, compensatory time (in lieu of overtime, if chosen) and holiday hours. Sick leave is accrued at the rate of one day per month or 12 days annually. Vacation is earned after one year of employment, then accrues on a bi-weekly basis. The county recognizes 13 holidays each year.

The Deferred 457 Retirement Plan is an optional, additional retirement plan. It is done at the employee’s expense and the county does not contribute to it. The employee can choose where to invest this money.

Voluntary Term Life Insurance: Employees have the option to elect additional life insurance policies through this benefit. There are plan options for self, spouse and children with varying election amounts.

There are also elective insurances. The county offers vision, dental and AFLAC insurances to its employees. If elected, these policies are paid for by the employee.

Deferred 457 Retirement Plan Minimum contributions are $25 per month/$12.50 biweekly.

 

Q: How much money has the county historically given the Kilgore Library? Also, can we see a break-down of how many library patrons are from other areas of the county and are not residents of the city itself?

A: Deb Robertson, director of the Kilgore Library, in York, said, “In the decade I have worked at the Kilgore Memorial Library, the funding from the county for the library has ranged from $15,000 to $17,500.  This current budget year the county gave the library $17,500.

A search of the patron registrations indicate there are 3,138 York County residents with library cards. That number breaks down to 2,334 indicating they live in the city limits of York and 834 are registered County residents outside of the City of York.

 

Q: I’m curious as to how many registered voters there are in York County. And is there a way to know the current break-down of party affiliation?

A: According to the Nebraska Secretary of State office, as of the latest numbers on Aug. 28, there are 9,269 registered voters in York County. Of those, 6,249 are Republicans; 1,361 are Democrats; 118 are Libertarian; 27 are members of the Legal Marijuana NOW party; and 1,514 are non-partisan.

 

Q: On that same note, what are the qualifications to register to vote?

A: To register to vote, you must be 18 years old. If you are 17 and will be 18 by the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November of an election year, you can register. To register, you must be a resident of Nebraska and of the county where you are registering. If you move to another county, you must re-register. You must be a United States citizen. If you have been convicted of a felony, either in Nebraska or another state or in federal court, you cannot register to vote until two years after the completion of your sentence including any probation or parole term. If you have been found by a court to be mentally incompetent, you cannot register to vote.

 

Q: I have a weird plant – a volunteer – which popped up in one of my flowerpots. It was a really pretty plant and started developing these little balls with husks around them. Are they tomatillos?

A: Its hard to say without seeing it, but according to Nebraska Extension, it also could be a ground cherry plant.

Either way, Nebraska Extension doesn’t advise eating the “berries” because they might be poisonous. Again, it’s hard to say without seeing what they look like.

 

Q: School is back in session and I think we need to talk about people stopped behind them when the stop arm is extended. How long do you have to stay stopped behind a school bus when it is stopped?

A: As long as the stop arm is extended from a school bus, drivers cannot proceed forward.

 

Q: In my neighborhood, there is a place where the tree limbs extend over the street and they really need to be trimmed. Does York have an ordinance addressing the requirements?

A: Yes, there is an ordinance addressing that.

There must be a clearance of eight feet over sidewalks and 13 ½ feet over the portion of public streets and alleys used for vehicular traffic.

Also, if there is a particular problem area the reader thinks city officials should look at, they can contact the city offices.

The city’s public works department has the legal ability to trim all trees that do not provide for that amount of clearance in public right-of-ways.

 

Q: I  am wondering what the new construction is on north Division just north of the old Epworth Village? I know there is construction on Division and 25th street for a new technology center, but this is south of there.

A: That property is owned by Wy-Ad. They purchased that side of the former industrial park from the City of York and it is a privately-owned endeavor in that area.

 

Q: Is orzo pasta or rice?

A: Orzo is pasta that is shaped like rice.

 

 

 

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