Carbon County is working to keep county employees safe and covered.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board unanimously voted to accept a proposal from the Housing and Redevelopment Insurance Exchange (HARIE), of Dunmore, for workers' compensation insurance coverage for 2011 at a premium of $396,734. This is a decrease of $48,000 from the 2010 premium the county paid for its 389 employees.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, explained that the actual premium from last year to this year differs significantly because last year, the premium for the county's former 651 employee base, which included Weatherwood was $1.17 million. Of that total, $445,000 was for the current employees, while the remaining $730,000 was used at Weatherwood.

"As you can see, part of the deficit up there (Weatherwood) was for workers' compensation," he said.

O'Gurek then added that since the sale, the premium is lower due to less employees covered.

Commissioner Charles Getz also noted that the county receives a 5 percent credit or $20,000 reduction on the premium for having a safety committee in place.

The proposal, which covers 276 full-time employees and 113 part-time employees, is a fixed cost program and includes claim service through Excalibur Claim Management and loss control assistance through Cocciardi & Associates.

This is the third year Carbon County has utilized HARIE as its workers' compensation insurance provider.

In December 2008, the county commissioners voted to hire HARIE instead of renewing with its former provider, The Pennsylvania Counties Workers' Compensation Trust (PComp), a program offered by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. At the time, HARIE's 2009 premium was $270,000 lower than PComp's.

In other matters, the commissioners voted to approve a memorandum of understanding between the county and Flagstaff Resort Land Holdings, Ltd. for the sole purposes of defining points to be included in a formal agreement of sale between the parties to facilitate approval and construction of an aerial tram system from downtown Jim Thorpe to Flagstaff Mountain and back.

O'Gurek said this action "authorizes the developer to apply for zoning and site plan approvals at the borough level."

Currently Flagstaff Resort Land Holdings, Ltd., is proposing an aerial tram from the top of Flagstaff Mountain down nearly 900 feet to Susquehanna Street in Jim Thorpe. The landing in Jim Thorpe is located right behind the county's Susquehanna Street parking lot. The estimated cost of the project is $10 million.

O'Gurek said the memorandum also states that the county would sell Flagstaff Resort Land Holdings the land needed to complete the project at fair market value plus 50 percent.

"None of this will take place until a couple of things are in place," O'Gurek stated, adding that all permits must be in place as well as financing for the project before any sale would occur.

"This action puts the ball back in the court of the developer," O'Gurek said. "It tells the authorities that issue the permits that the county is part of the process and is willing to sell the land."

Getz also noted that the action also give the developer permission to go in and do a study to see if the land can be built upon.