Aurora, schools, Reminderville get workers' comp cash back

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR Published:

Aurora -- The city's largest public employers recently received a nice boost from the state, getting back $189,355 from "larger than expected fund balances" at the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, according to Gov. John Kasich's office.

This summer, the city of Aurora received $114,090, the Aurora schools $66,015 and the village of Reminderville $9,250 based on 2011 policy year premiums that were paid in 2012 by the three public entities.

The amount each employer was refunded equaled about 56 percent of their annual workers' compensation insurance premiums from 2011.

In the city, the money will be placed in the general fund, which paid out $6.2 million in employee salaries in 2012, according to finance director Bob Paul. That salary figure does not include employees in the parks and recreation and water and sewer departments.

With a total budget of about $26.3 million, the city this year paid the BWC $203,739 in workers' compensation premiums. Paul reported the city has 118 employees.

As part of the general fund, Paul said the money can be appropriated by City Council for specific purposes at the end of the year, or can be carried over into 2014.

Workers' compensation premiums for public employers are based on annual salaries and determined by the number and amount of claims filed the previous year, as well as an employee's type of work.

The Aurora schools, the city's largest public employer with about 300 full- and part-time employees and a budget of about $31 million, paid about $119,000, in premiums in 2012, according to district Treasurer Bill Volosin, who added like the city the refunded money will go into the general fund, from which workers compensation premiums are paid.

All of Portage County's public entities were refunded $1.5 million.

THE BWC and Kasich's office in May proposed returning $112.8 million to nearly 3,800 local governments and schools across the state under a $1 billion rebate program proposed by Kasich and BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer.

The rebates were approved by the BWC's board of directors on May 30 and also included a tripling of safety grants and a 4 percent rate reduction for public employers.

The rebates and reforms were made possible by larger than expected fund balances at BWC generated by strong investment management, according to Kasich's office.

"Our goal is to support the health and safety of Ohio workers while maintaining stable workers' compensation rates for employers, including local governments," said Buehrer. "This rebate will return nearly $113 million to local governments and schools who are already seeing the lowest rates in 30 years thanks to recent annual rate reductions."

Out of the $112.8 million being returned, Ohio schools received the largest portion of the rebate -- about $42.5 million -- followed by cities at $37 million, counties at $16.5 million and townships at $7.6 million.

Some of Ohio's local governments and schools are self-insured and do not pay into the BWC system and are therefore not impacted by the rebate plan.

The rebate is funded from BWC's net assets, which have grown to $8.3 billion and are far in excess of the target funding ratio of assets to liabilities, according to Kasich's office.

The entire $1.9 billion proposal includes issuing $1 billion in rebates to Ohio's about 210,000 public and private employers that pay into the state insurance fund; and tripling Ohio's Safety and Wellness Grant programs to $15 million "to further emphasize safety in the workplace and to better protect Ohio's workers," according to Kasich's office.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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