FARMINGTON -- About $86,000, out of a $586,746 health insurance credit, is being returned to Davis County employees in the form of a two pay-period insurance premium "holiday."
The remaining $500,000 credit received from the Public Employees Health Program, of which the county is a member, is being set aside to cover emergency building repairs, cost overruns on the $22.5 million Memorial Courthouse campus renovation or seismic upgrades to the historic county courthouse in downtown Farmington.
On Tuesday, the Davis County Commission approved of the budget change and placed the $500,000 credit into its capital project fund.
But before the commission's action Tuesday, the 747 employees eligible to receive health insurance from the county each received their own little slice of the returned credit amount.
"It was a nice belated Christmas gift," Davis County Personnel Director Mel Miles said.
The two pay-period holiday, in which employees do not have to pay their premiums for a total of four weeks, put between $36 and $110 in their pockets depending on the level of their insurance plan, Miles said.
"How unusual is that?" Miles said of county leaders sharing a portion of the credit with its employees, who will not receive a cost-of-living increase for the 2012 calendar year as a result of the economy's effect on the county budget.
"It's news from out of the blue for the employees," Miles said. "A nice little bump for them. It was appreciated. We were surprised by the number."
Miles said the county received the credit based on its use of the health benefit fund, its claim experience and its enrollment.
Davis County is one of the larger PEHP members, he said.
Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings said the $500,000 placed in the capital improvement project fund can be used for any one of a number of projects, including covering any possible campus renovation work overruns, emergency repairs to buildings and equipment, or making seismic upgrades to the front two-thirds of the historic courthouse.
"The seismic upgrade to (the courthouse) would pretty well consume all of that," Rawlings said of the remaining credit.
Rawlings estimates it would cost $5 million to bring the courthouse up to earthquake standards. But regardless of the cost, he said, there are many who believe it is a building that needs to be preserved.
"It has a historic significance to Farmington city and to Davis County as a whole," Davis County Commissioner Bret Millburn said of the courthouse that is a county icon.
Whatever project receives the dollars, Millburn said, the county's philosophy is to use "one-time dollars" for a "one-time use," versus investing the funds into ongoing programs. He said:
"There is a whole litany of things that could be added to that list."