GIRARD — Several county employees and department heads attended the regular meeting of the Crawford County Commission Friday to ask questions and voice concerns about possible changes to the county employee benefits plan.

Employees expressed that the benefits provided have been an appeal to working for the county.

“We want to keep it that way,” Commissioner Carl Wood said. “But we can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

The commission has been exploring several options this year, looking for the best plan of action after a string of large claims costs in 2017. One option is to raise employee premiums.

“The past seven or eight years the county has seen a 4 to 10 percent increase each year in insurance costs,” Wood said. “We’ve absorbed that an not passed it on to the employees.”

At the meeting, the commission met with IMA Consulting, a benefits consulting group, which manages the employee benefits program for the City of Pittsburg.

IMA presented the county with information on how they operate, and what they could offer. The county currently employs Gallagher Benefit Services as its consultant.

Girard City Administrator Chris Weiner attended the meeting to ask the commission for possible help with street overlay projects in town this summer. The county performed overlay work last year for the city.

The commission agreed to do its half of a project on Southern Street. Half of Southern is owned by the county, while the other is Girard’s. Weiner will meet with County Asphalt Foreman Randy Chiartano to discuss costs, and the county will look at further projects in Girard if time allows.

Wood voiced concerns that the county pays a 20 percent higher rate for utilities in Girard than any other entity, citing the help offered to Girard by the county in the past.

Weiner explained that government buildings pay a higher electricity rate, but have the second lowest overall rate for utilities.

Weiner also reported that a new sewer lift station for the Girard Industrial Park — where the Crawford County Jail is located — is on its way. Girard also plans to install a bar screen to catch debris from the jail, but has run into some delays. Weiner said he will report back to the county when more information is available.

Terry Sercer of Diehl, Banwart and Bolton presented the annual audit report for the county. Sercer reported that the county was given an unqualified opinion — the highest possible rating — and was not in violation of an federal or state statutes.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.