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Inside Story for Monday, November 28, 2011

Dec. 2 is the 2012 PayFlex Enrollment Deadline

Attention current 2011 PayFlex participants: 

You must re-enroll by Dec. 2, 2011, to continue participation for 2012! Your current PayFlex election will not carryover next year.

If you are not planning to re-enroll in PayFlex for the 2012 plan year, please inform Jo Anne Whitmyre, human resources services specialist, at 402-457-2231.

All 2011 expenses must be incurred by Dec.31, 2011, (no later than March 15, 2012, under the grace period), and 2011 claims must be filed by March 31, 2012. Any unclaimed balance remaining in your account after the March 31 claim filing deadline will be forfeited. View end-of-the-year claim for filing information.

To enroll for the 2012 plan year (Jan. 1-Dec.31, 2012):

  1. Carefully read all of the information in this notice, including the underlined links to the PayFlex website and online tools.
  2. Download and print the PayFlex enrollment form.
  3. Write in MCC's employer ID #10073.
  4. Your PayFlex member number is your Social Security Number.
  5. Calculate your annual 2012 election, then divide by 24 pay periods (or 18 for some 9-month faculty) to determine your per pay period amount.
  6. Return your completed enrollment form to Human Resources, Fort Omaha Campus, Building 32, or fax to 402-457-2237, by Friday, Dec. 2, 2011.

Important points, helpful links and online tools to review before enrolling in PayFlex:

  • Healthcare Account 2012 limit = $4,900
    (Limited to $2,500 beginning plan year 2013, under healthcare reform legislation)
  • Child care/adult day care account 2012 limit = $5,000
  • Estimate your "plan year amount" conservatively, using only predictable expenses. Carefully review your out-of-pocket health, dental, vision and hearing expenses for yourself, your spouse and your dependent children during this past year or use the savings calculator and PayFlex digital library.
  • You cannot start, stop or change your PayFlex election during the plan year unless you experience a qualifying "change-in-status" event and notify Human Resources within 31 days from the date of the qualifying event.
  • Your out-of-pocket health, dental, vision and hearing expenses, such as your annual health insurance deductible, co-pays and co-insurance amounts (co-insurance is the amount-typically 20 percent-you owe after your deductible is satisfied) are all eligible expenses under PayFlex.
  • Do you or an eligible family member take prescription medications? Need new eyeglasses or contacts? Considering LASIK surgery? Have a child needing or currently wearing braces? Need a crown or bridge? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you could be saving money through PayFlex. These are just a few examples of the numerous eligible expenses under a PayFlex healthcare account.
  • Not enrolled in MCC's Blue Cross and Blue Shield health and dental plan? That's OK-you can still participate in PayFlex. If your spouse already participates in a flexible spending account through his/her employer, you can also enroll in MCC's plan but be careful not to "double-dip" any claims! Group insurance premiums through your spouse's employer or any personal insurance premiums are not eligible expenses.
  • Are you paying child care or adult daycare expenses while you and your spouse work? Consider using PayFlex instead of the child care tax credit on your income tax return. A PayFlex dependent care account allows you to pay for daycare expenses using tax-free dollars, reimbursing you for these expenses so you and your spouse can work. Qualified expenses include daycare, before/after school programs, nursery or preschool and adult daycare. Try the dependent care tax wizard to compare your potential tax savings and use the dependent care expense worksheet to help estimate your expenses!

IMPORTANT: Before enrolling in a PayFlex child care or adult daycare account, carefully read the child/adult daycare FAQs, including questions such as: What are the applicable IRS rules (age of child, reason for care, who is providing the care) for getting reimbursed for daycare expenses? When can I submit a claim for daycare expenses and what type of documentation is acceptable for reimbursement? Can I also use the federal tax credit for dependent daycare expenses? 

PayFlex cards and over-the-counter medicines and drugs:

Most over-the-counter medicines and drugs are not eligible expenses unless you have a written prescription from your doctor. This rule does not apply to insulin. In addition, PayFlex (HealthHub) debit cards cannot be used at retail stores to purchase OTC medicine and drugs. View more details and a list of eligible and ineligible over-the-counter expenses as of January 2011.

Grace period significantly lessens impact of IRS "use it or lose it" rule!

The grace period extends the normal timeframe you are allowed to incur eligible healthcare expenses before your remaining account balance is forfeited. The normal timeframe, called the plan year, runs for a 12-month period from Jan. 1-Dec. 31. (The grace period does not apply to dependent care accounts.) Under the grace period, healthcare account participants have an additional two months and 15 days following the end of the plan year to incur eligible expenses to help you avoid forfeiture of unused contributions deposited into your healthcare account. Consequently, current 2011 PayFlex healthcare account participants have until March 15, 2012, to incur eligible healthcare expenses.

All grace period expenses are paid out of your "prior" plan year balance automatically, thereby helping to "use up" your prior plan year balance first. Once the prior plan year balance is exhausted, the remaining claims will be applied toward the current plan year. Under the IRS "use it or lose it" rule, any amount not used by the end of the grace period on March 15 will be forfeited.

If you have any questions, contact PayFlex or a Human Resources representative:

Your Gift...Their Future...Our Promise

A donation to the faculty and staff campaign provides scholarships and support that help MCC students financially and help academic areas to enhance or expand their programs.

Join your fellow colleagues and provide a gift today. You can download a pledge card, or you may give online to participate. In order to start payroll deduction on Jan. 13, the Foundation office will need to receive your pledge card by Dec. 16. After Dec. 16, the deductions will be adjusted accordingly throughout the year.

If you have any questions, contact the Foundation at 402-457-2346.

A very special thank you to the 153 employees who have already responded. Your generosity has raised more than $40,000!

Listen to Nicole Greco, MCC Institute for the Culinary Arts student, thank those who have given to the Foundation.

Network Infrastructure Maintenance Scheduled

IT Services will conduct maintenance and upgrade activities to network infrastructure and servers from Monday, Nov. 28-30. This activity is part of the ITS preventative maintenance and upgrade plan. Short-term interruptions of the following network services will occur for all campuses:

a)     Access to the Internet

b)    Access to guest and authenticated wireless

c)     Access to MCC web servers including ANGEL web servers

If you have any difficulties accessing the network Thursday morning, Dec. 1, try rebooting your computer. If that does not fix the problem, contact the Help Desk for assistance at 402-457-2900.

MCC Academy for Leadership Application Deadline is Dec. 1

Invest in yourself by applying for the MCC Academy for Leadership by Thursday, Dec. 1. The MCC Academy for Leadership provides participants with the knowledge, skills and tools to effectively cultivate individual leadership abilities needed to successfully serve MCC and the community with distinction.

The MCC Academy for Leadership is a ten-month cohort program, meeting one day a month at various locations throughout MCC's four-county service area. Each month, participants will investigate leadership and their role as a leader, gain knowledge around the inner workings and culture of MCC and get a broad view of MCC and the College's role in the community.

Selected participants will:

  • Understand and define MCC's organizational culture
  • Discover inner-potential and build self-confidence
  • Develop trust and respect for abilities and potential
  • Examine leadership styles and how to adapt to alternative styles
  • Learn to nurture leadership skills needed to lead MCC into the future
  • Complete a capstone project

The MCC Academy for Leadership is open to full-time employees who have worked a minimum of two years at the College. The pdf application and additional details about this exciting opportunity are available online. Application deadline is Thursday, Dec. 1. Contact Marilyn Cotten, coordinator of training and development, with questions.

Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day at Fort Omaha Campus Bookstore

You are invited to stop by the faculty and staff appreciation event on Thursday, Dec. 15, anytime between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. at MCC's Fort Omaha Campus Bookstore, Building 10. A 20 percent discount will be available on select apparel and gifts. (This discount is valid during the in-store event and cannot be combined with other discounts. See store for details.) Snacks will also be served. View the invitation >>

Emerging Leaders Invites MCC Employees to Join Winter Activities

MCC's Emerging Leaders Community Involvement Committee is coordinating two volunteer opportunities at the Open Door Mission to help bag toys. Emerging Leaders, MCC employees, their families and guests are invited to volunteer on Tuesday Dec. 6, 6-8 p.m. and/or Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-noon. If you would like to help, contact Lisa Bradley, coordinator of annual giving, at 402-457-2879.

MCC's Emerging Leaders Health and Wellness Committee is coordinating an ice skating event downtown after Saturday's event. Even if you are not able to join us at the Open Door Mission earlier that day, you are welcome to join us at the ConAgra Foods Ice Rink at Heartland of America from 1-3 p.m. on Dec. 10. Admission is $5 per person and includes skate rental. All proceeds will be donated to the Food Bank of the Heartland. For more information on this activity, contact Greg Stachon, records drawing coordinator, at 402-457-2621.

Participation in both events is voluntary.

Self-Defense Class for Women

If you have not participated yet, there is still time! Register now for one of two upcoming self-defense classes for women offered by MCC's Police/Public Safety. The class is free of charge and open to any female MCC student or employee.

Tuesday, Nov. 29
Elkhorn Valley Campus
Room 114
8:30-11:30 a.m. (morning session)
12:30-3:30 p.m. (afternoon session)

Tuesday, Dec. 13
Elkhorn Valley Campus
Room 114
1-4 p.m. (afternoon session)

Email David Friend, chief of police and director of emergency management, to reserve a spot. The sessions are limited to 20 participants.

For more information, visit www.nsdi.org/safe.htm.

Jim Trebbien to Receive Community Betterment Award

The North Omaha Commercial Club will award Jim Trebbien, dean of culinary arts, hospitality and horticulture, one of the Community Betterment Awards for his work with the Institute for theJim Trebbien Culinary Arts at a ceremony on Monday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. at the General Crook House.

Trebbien began as an instructor in the Food Service program at MCC in 1985 in a small space allotted in Building 5 at the Fort Omaha Campus. Two stoves and a refrigerator were among the few initial provisions for the new program that had approximately 50 students and one other faculty to support Trebbien's teaching efforts. During the 25 years that followed, the enrollment in what is now called the Institute for the Culinary Arts has grown to nearly 1,000 full-time students with eight full-time and 45 part-time instructors, as well as more than 35 staff members. In addition to providing leadership to a program that instructs students from Nebraska and several other states in the culinary specialties, Trebbien has been instrumental in raising more than $2 million in support of the construction of the building and facilities. The facility hosts many area functions including the annual ICA High School Invitational, a culinary competition involving more than 30 teams from area high schools.

Watch Your Step During the Winter Months

Slips, trips and falls account for a large percentage of the injuries that occur throughout the United States and at MCC. Winter months present additional hazards that increase risk. Protect yourself this season by following these simple winter safety guidelines:

  • Wear proper footwear. Footwear should have a good rubber treads for traction. Regular shoes can be changed into once indoors.
  • Use designated walking paths. Other routes may have hidden hazards that are buried underneath the snow and/or ice.
  • Walk slowly.
  • Look ahead to the path in front of you to avoid hazards.
  • Report slippery areas to Facilities Management, 402-457-2307.
  • Report all incidents to MCC Police/Public Safety, 402-457-2222. Regardless of whether or not medical attention is necessary, you should report an incident.

For more information, contact Jerome Patten, coordinator of workplace safety and health, at 402-457-2508.

'Tis the Season for Holiday Scams

The holidays are a time for food, family and celebration, but they are also a prime time for people to fall victim to identity thieves, hackers and deceptive merchants online. Here are some tips to stay safe this holiday season provided by the Better Business Bureau.

Finding the season's hottest toys and gadgets online
Every year, holiday shoppers fight over the "must have" toy or gadget of the season. When the item is sold out in stores, you can often find it online through sites like Craigslist or eBay-for a much steeper price. The problem is that some sellers will take your money and run.

Advice: Shop locally on Craigslist and conduct the transaction in person-never wire money as payment. When purchasing items on auctions like eBay, research the seller extensively and always listen to your doubts if the deal does not sound legit.

Identity theft at the mall
While you are struggling at the mall with bags of presents, identity thieves see an opportunity to steal your wallet and debit or credit card numbers.

BBB Advice: Do not let yourself get bogged down in purchases and lose track of your wallet. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money from the ATM.

Bogus charitable pleas
The holidays are a time of giving that creates a great opportunity for scammers to solicit donations to line their own pockets. Also beware of solicitations from charities that do not necessarily deliver on their promises or are ill-equipped to carry through on their plans.

Advice: Always research a charity with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance before you give to see if the charity meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Phishing emails
Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to get at your personal information or break into your computer. Common phishing emails around the holidays include e-cards and messages pretending to be from companies like UPS or FedEx with links to package tracking information.

BBB Advice: Do not click on any links or open any attachments to emails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. Email addresses that do not match up, typos and grammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing email. Also beware of unsolicited emails from companies with which you have no association. Make sure you have current antivirus software and that all security patches have been installed on the computer.

Scam shopping websites
We are all looking for a great deal online, but some sites offer electronics or luxury goods at prices that are too good to be true. Every holiday season holiday shoppers pay for a supposedly great deal online but received nothing in return.

Advice: Always look for the BBB seal when shopping online and click on the seal to confirm it is legitimate. When shopping on sites that are not household names, check the business out with the BBB before you buy.

For more advice on being a savvy consumer this holiday season, visit www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday/.

HR Updates

New Employees

Geri Scribner
Gerianne "Geri" Scribner
Grant Management and Compliance Specialist
FOC, Building 1

James Johnson

Alvin Motley

Weekly Green Tip

Try to do your cardio workouts on equipment that doesn't require an external power supply. For a 40 minute workout, you could save 0.8 kilowatt-hour of energy—the amount you'd burn if you ran seven miles.-The Green Book

Metro Reads! Food Rules

"It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car." p. 43

Did You Know...

World AIDS Day is Dec. 1?

MCC Is Making News

What's the latest and greatest? Check out the latest news releases issued by Public Affairs to find out.

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