County will offer free prescription discount card; school tax holiday on hold

A new discount program will soon be available to help consumers cope with the high price of prescription drugs, it was announced at the monthly commission meeting Monday. It is being made available through the Blount County Commission. The county has arranged to provide prescription discount cards under a program sponsored by the National Association of Counties, the professional association of county commissions. It will offer average savings of 22 percent off the retail price of a wide range of commonly prescribed drugs.

The cards, to be available soon at the courthouse and at pharmacies around the county, are available to all citizens and are free of charge. There are no enrollment fees, no forms to fill out, no age or income requirements and no medical condition restrictions. The entire family is covered with just one card and virtually all commonly prescribed medicines are covered. The cards are contained in detachable form in brochures describing the program.

All large chain pharmacies and many independent pharmacies will accept the card. While savings average 22 percent compared to retail prices, the program will provide larger savings on certain categories. It will provide savings in the 30 percent range on generic medications and up to 50 percent off on selected generic drugs ordered by mail.

“This is going to be a great thing for the people of Blount County,” said District 1 Commissioner David Cochran, who led the commission’s efforts to introduce the program. “It’s designed to provide significant savings for people who are uninsured or underinsured, and that’s one reason I’m so excited about it. Even people who have good prescription coverage can use it to save money on drugs not covered by their health plan. All you have to do is get hold of one of these cards and take it with you to the pharmacy. That one card covers your entire family,” he said.

Further details are available on the website

In its work session meeting last Thursday, the commission declined to place on the agenda for a vote in Monday’s business meeting a resolution declaring a tax holiday on school-related purchases before the fall term begins in August. A resolution is required to notify the state if the county plans to participate. All counties contiguous to Blount County, with the exception of Marshall, will participate in the tax holiday this year. The tax holiday is expected to be on the commission agenda next month.

In other actions, the commission:

•approved a resolution modifying the 10-Year Solid Waste Plan, to be submitted to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for approval; the modification allows the commission to approve expansion existing landfills providing the operator is willing to enter into a host agreement contract with the county commission.

•approved a request from Dr. Rich Crow, interim director of Alabama Youth Homes, to extend their deadline to vacate the Freedom Ranch property to the end of July; the previous deadline to vacate the county-owned property had been the end of the current school year.

•approved a request from the Industrial Development Board to receive the $75,000 budgeted for that agency in the county’s 2009 fiscal year budget.

•authorized the county engineer to purchase a new scanner/plotter in the amount of $14,400, and approved a budget amendment to transfer funds to the appropriate account for that purpose.

•approved a request of the Palisades Park board to add a small storage building behind the Quilter’s Cottage, providing that the building be built to blend with other park buildings and be subject to approval by the park board.

•approved an agreement with Securis Technologies to continue providing telephone service to inmates who may use the service to call out from the jail; the sheriff’s department realizes about $2,500 annually in proceeds from the service, which is “plowed back into jail operations,” according to Sheriff Loyd Arrington.

•authorized the commission chairman to negotiate a rental agreement for a new postage machine and scale for the courthouse

•approved lease with Snead Equipment for a tractor apiece for Districts 3 and 4 at a rental rate of $550 per month for eight months out of the year during bush hogging season.

•approved budget amendment of $1000 to cover donation to the animal shelter to build an outdoor puppy kennel.

•approved a budget amendment for $3728.80 for District 1 for reimbursement from E-911 for street sign purchases.

•approved budget amendment for $4795 for the engineering department to move funds to cover the cost of a new printer.

•approved line item transfers requested by the county engineer to cover employee benefit adjustments in that department.

•approved a budget amendment of $1225 for District 3 to allow for funds received from sale of 1989 Ford F-450.

•approved proceeding on a grant application for the purchase of 100 stop signs; grant will enable commission to buy signs at a 15 percent discount.

Executive session/recessed meeting

The commission adjourned following the meeting to go into executive session. County attorney Tom Prickett’s request stated the intent of the executive session as follows: “…to discuss with their undersigned attorney legal ramifications of and legal options for pending litigation, controversies not yet being litigated but imminently likely to be litigated, or imminently likely to be litigated if the governmental body pursues a proposed course of action, or to meet or confer with a mediator or arbitrator with respect to any litigation or decision concerning matters within the jurisdiction of the governmental body involving another party, group, or body.”

Following the executive session, the commission reconvened and announced the business meeting was in recess until April 28 at 1 p.m., when it will resume. No topic or subject for the recessed meeting was given.

The next commission work session is scheduled for May 7 at 9 a.m. The next business meeting is set for Monday, May 11, at 9 a.m.

All commissioners – David Cochran, Robert Bullard, Tom Ryan, and Waymon Pitts – were present at Monday’s business meeting, as was Commission Chairman David Cochran.