Carbon County will see about a four percent increase this year on insurance to keep the county and its employees covered.

The commissioners Thursday voted to renew the 2012-2013 insurance policy with the Pennsylvania Counties Risk Pool (PCoRP) at a total premium cost of $271,600. This is a $12,079 increase from last year.

The insurance covers $87.8 million in county property and 58 vehicles. It also covers general liability, errors and omissions, crime, equipment breakdown, and flood insurances and more.

Carbon County currently employs 394 full-time and part-time 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; increased to $386,446 in 2009-2010; decreased to $357,598 in 2010-2011 and decreased again to $259,521 in 2011-2012.

One of the factors that drives the annual premium is the loss experience. Last year, Carbon's losses were $7,262, which represents $107,717 less than in 2010.

Carbon County is one of 48 entities that utilize the PCoRP insurance, operated by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. PCoRP insures a total of $3.6 billion worth of property throughout Pennsylvania, as well as 2,819 vehicles and over 21,000 employees.

In other matters, the county opened bids for the courthouse chimney project.

The apparent low bidder was Spotts Brothers Inc. of Schuylkill Haven, who submitted a bid of $25,760. Other bids received were Houck and Company Inc. of Harrisburg, $54,956; and Caretti Restoration Inc. of Berwick, $82,600.

The commissioners put the project out for bid after a routine inspection showed that the mortar on the chimney was "unsound and deteriorated."

At the time, the county estimated that the project would cost around $60,000. In addition to repairing the mortar, the project also calls for reconstructing the cap supports and repairing the cap, removing and replacing deteriorated brick and installing a steel mesh over the chimney face.