Carbon County will pay nearly $29,000 less this year on insurance to keep the county and its employees covered.

The commissioners Thursday voted to renew the 2010-2011 insurance policy with the Pennsylvania Counties Risk Pool (PCoRP) at a total cost of $357,598. This is a $28,848 decrease from last year.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, explained that the county was happy about the decrease.

"The good new is this is a decrease of almost $30,000," he said. "That's good news for us."

O'Gurek said that this insurance covers $114 million in county property and 57 vehicles. It also covers general liability, crime insurance, public official insurance, and flood insurance.

This year, the county's number of insurance claims came in at 10. This is down from the previous three years, where 14 claims were reported.

Commissioner Charles Getz said he believes the decrease in claims and insurance cost is due to "the county's safety committee, especially at Weatherwood" because they have put in procedures to make sure employees are safe on the job.

The county currently employs over 500 employees in various departments.

In 2007-2008, the county paid $380,109 for the insurance policy. It then dropped to $338,383 for 2008-2009 and increased to $386,446 in 2009-2010.

In other matters, the commissioners voted to approve a grant agreement between Carbon-Monroe-Pike County Commissioners and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Program, from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015. The grant will be no more than $990,931 for each fiscal year.

Jamie Drake, treatment program manager of the Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug and Alcohol Commission's Lehighton Office, explained that the money will be used for a number of things.

She said there will be changes made to include a requirement to provide an additional provider to clients so that they have a choice. The commission will also begin an assessment of gambling issues beginning July 1; and a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder specialist will be added to help pregnant women deal with issues they may have during their pregnancy.

The commissioners also approved a one-year extension of the agreement between Carbon County and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development through the Land Use Planning and Technical Assistance Program for funds in the amount of $72,920, with a 50/50 match from Carbon, for the county comprehensive greenway plan.