May 14, 2013
LIMA — The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and Gov. John Kasich’s office proposed to return more than $1 billion in workers’ compensation rebates to 210,000 employers statewide, including an estimated $112 million to municipalities, libraries and schools.
That could mean more than $1.1 million for Allen County, $458,000 for Auglaize County and $303,000 for Putnam County. And it could also mean almost $900 million that goes back to private sector employers that pay into the State Insurance Fund.
The option is available thanks to larger-than-expected funds made from investments, said Bill Teets, spokesperson with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Returns like this last were approved in the mid-2000s.
“Our goal is to support the health and safety of Ohio workers while maintaining stable workers’ compensation rates for employers, including local governments,” Steve Buehrer, BWC CEO, in a prepared statement.
Out of the $112.8 million being returned, schools will receive the largest portion of the rebate – approximately $42.5 million. Cities would receive $37 million, counties would receive $16.5 million and townships would receive $7.6 million. Some of the state’s local governments and schools are self-insured and do not pay into the BWC system. They would not be impacted by the rebate plan.
The Allen County Board of Commissioners could receive around $142,000 if the proposal is approved. Commissioner Jay Begg said the proposal is a pleasant surprise. Most issues with which he deals relate to increasing costs.
“If it does come to happen, as we probably expect it may, we’ll probably look at keeping it in the employment line item in some fashion,” Begg said. “It is the cost of employees to have this workers’ comp. It’s too soon to say what we’re going to do, but something employment-related is quite a possibility.”
Lima is estimated to get more than $301,000 in return money.
Vincent Ozier, Lima director of Human Resources, said the city would be very pleased to receive the rebate if the plan passed.
The proposal also includes tripling Ohio’s Safety and Wellness Grant programs to $15 million for the July 1 policy year and approving a 4 percent rate reduction for public employers by the BWC billing employers upfront. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors, an independent entity, will vote on the $1.9 billion proposal May 30. If approved, employers could receive the money as soon as this summer.