Summit County will extend health insurance benefits to domestic partners of its employees.
County Council approved the ordinance Monday night at its regular meeting, with two “no” votes cast by Republicans Gloria Rodgers, District 3, and Councilman-At-Large Bill Roemer.
Effective Jan. 1 domestic partners will be entitled to the same health benefits as spouses and dependents.
Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said it’s the right thing to do and is in step with the county’s fairness policy.
He said the benefits to domestic partners are becoming more and more available in both the public as well as private sectors and the county needs to stay competitive.
The amendment is also an extension of some of the benefits already in place for domestic partners such as sick leave, bereavement and FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). Domestic partnership will apply to same-sex relationships as well as opposite-sex relationships, but the parties involved must sign an affidavit stating they are in an exclusive relationship and each share responsibility for the other’s common welfare. They must be at least 18 years of age, mentally competent and not related to the other to a degree that would prohibit marriage. Neither can be legally married or legally separated from another person. They must also provide proof of residing at the same address, such as a joint mortgage or joint lease and driver’s license with the same address.
Dodson said based on research of other entities offering the same benefits, the county’s health insurance consultant estimates the cost to be minimal.
The county’s health insurance budget is $31 million. The additional coverage is estimated to cost the county about $40,000 to $80,000. The county has 2,400 employees.
In other county action, council:
•Approved nine new members to the county Charter Review Commission. The commission is formed every five years to identify problems in the city charter. The confirmed appointments are: Patrick Darrow, Richard Dobbins, Laraine Duncan, Daniel Flowers, Helen Humphrys, Kyle Kutuchief, Angelina Milo, Carmen Roberto and Cazzell Smith.
• Approved paying $100,000 for a professional service contract with the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina counties for homeless prevention services at various shelters Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2014, to help victims of domestic violence with rent, case management, short-term housing and moving expenses.
• Confirmed a contract for just over $1 million with the Shelly Co. for the Cleveland-Massillon project, which includes resurfacing, widening and repairing Cleveland-Massillon Road from Ghent Road to Ira Road. It will be a standalone project that could get started by the end of the month. There are three funding sources for the project: $800,000 from federal funds, $170,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission and $49,000 from the motor vehicle and gas tax.
• Approved advertising for bids for construction of a pump station in New Franklin for $410,000. It is located on Vanderhoof Road just south of Barberton. Mike Weant, director of environmental services, said the pump station has served more than its life expectancy, which is usually 25 to 30 years, and is now more of a safety issue. The new pump station will be built alongside the old one and then service will be switched over so there will be no interruption of customer service. The old station will then be demolished. The county will pay the city of Barberton for the water treatment at Barberton’s nearby plant.
• Approved the promotion of assistant to council Jennifer Novakovic to the unclassified clerk of council position at a salary of $45,000. She will replace Clerk of Council Faylin Mutch, who will take a job as a senior administrator with the Department of Environmental Services at a salary of $60,000.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.