Cemetery districts to cover themselves


SUBLETTE COUNTY – Following an extended discussion about the future of the Pinedale Cemetery, members of the Upper Green River Cemetery District and Big Piney Cemetery District met with the Sublette County Board of Commissioners during the board’s Jan. 18 meeting.

Commissioners invited them to the county courthouse to discuss insurance and the possibility that each cemetery district would take on its own insurance instead of the county.

Among worries from the cemetery districts that they were getting “kicked off” the county’s insurance plan, county clerk Carrie Long explained the situation stemmed from stop-loss coverage. Because cemetery personnel are not Sublette County employees and exist within their own respective entities, a potential claim could be denied by stop-loss insurance. That means the county would be on the hook to pay those claims.

Long said that, historically, the county has paid the bill whenever a cemetery district employee has gone to the doctor.

“As things get tighter and the board scrutinizes the budget, I felt like the board needed to know they are also paying the claims for the cemetery district,” Long said, “so that’s why that’s here today.”

She explained the most recent discussions with insurance payouts and coverage regarding the Rendezvous Pointe garage that suffered fire damage has led county employees to reexamine its insurance policies.

Cemetery district representatives told commissioners they couldn’t cover insurance costs at the moment because they weren’t budgeted. Commissioners said it would be no issue to continue covering them until budget season, which gives the district time to shop insurance plans before coming up with budget money to cover them.

It was agreed cemetery districts across the county, with their own boards and own mil levies, would take on their own insurance plans in September.

Commissioners also discussed insurance for the county’s weed and pest board for the same reason Long brought up the cemetery district insurance issue. Commissioner Tom Noble said he’d prefer to see that board, which is also its own entity with its own mil levy, be responsible for its own insurance. Commissioner Doug Vickrey agreed, to the room’s bewilderment. Nearly every commissioner followed in agreement to close discussions. 

Other items:

  • Public Health nurse Janna Lee was approved of a county contract to seek grant money to administer COVID-19 vaccines. That lasts for two years. Commissioner Vickrey asked about the importance of a booster, which Lee said she recommended to prevent hospitalizations. Lee said statistics lag behind in Sublette County and the omicron variant is sweeping through. Vickrey asked if the message was to “stop buying from China,” which Lee avoided and instead urged people to get vaccinated. Vickrey’s comment came months after board chair Joel Bousman inferred a new variant of the coronavirus would come “whenever China released a new one.”
  • Commissioners approved Sublette County Sheriff KC Lehr’s request to increase the 911 surcharge from 50 cents to 75 cents. That is a line item on the monthly bills of cellphones, land lines, radios, anything that can contact 911. There’s a Wyoming state statute that caps charges at 75 cents per month and the county’s previous 50-cent charge was considerably low.
  • Following an extended executive session involving interviews to start the day, commissioners offered the IT director job to Lisa Copeland. County employees and outside contractors covered that position in the interim, following the death of former IT director Mike Christie.

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