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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Auth News

Lake Shore Hosp Auth:  Auth Manager, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, proposes effective 44% tax hike

Berry reads budget
Hosp Auth Manager Berry reads the proposed budget at last night's meeting. He never mentioned raising taxes.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Lake Shore Hospital Authority Manager, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, allowed last night's scheduled Authority budget work shop to begin almost twenty minutes early even though it was advertised on the LSHA website calendar as beginning at 6 pm. Unlike in years past, when there was a little bit of supporting documentation, Mr. Berry was unprepared for the workshop and his presentation reflected that. This year the tentative budget didn't even have a label stating that it was the proposed budget. The Lake Shore Hospital Board is appointed by the Governor.

As the budget hearing got underway, your reporter asked for the reference material referred to in the untitled tentative budget as "Reference." Mr. Berry said, "There is none." This was the first budget workshop that rudimentary supporting documentation was not made available since your reporter began covering the Hospital Authority in 2008.

The Authority posted agenda clearly showed that the regular board meeting concluded at
6 pm.

The Governor's handpicked board didn't seem to mind or notice.

As he does every year, Authority Manager Berry began reading the budget line by line.

The budget, as is the practice of the Authority, had no historical data with which to compare the various line items.

Read more about the Lake Shore Hospital Authority and Jackson P. "Jack" Berry here.

Mr. Berry mentioned something about giving one employee a raise by fully funding the position, but there was nothing in the tentative budget that showed this.

Mr. Berry said there was a difference in the payroll line of $2,937. "I'd like to raise the position – I'd like to fund the position that we call receptionist to the full capacity which is $25,000 for that position. That would allow me, between now and the end of next year to upgrade that position by a total of $29,307. She's tooken – takin in a lot more work than what a receptionist is doin and consequently that position needs to be upgraded some," he said.

Mr. Berry said he needed input from the board on increasing the payroll. "We'll leave that up to you guys. We're goin to approve the budget then we can talk about that."

Mr. Berry said he increased cleaning supplies by $3,000, which if he did, would represent an increase of 37.5% over the preceding year. There was nothing indicating any increase.

There is a $5,000 line in the budget for board training. There was no explanation of prior expenditures over time.

Mr. Berry added a new line to the budget called building maintenance. "We've never had a building maintenance fund before, but I plugged in $25,000 there. I doubt very seriously we'll use all of that, but we wanted to put something in the budget for it." There was no further explanation of the $25,000 expenditure.

Mr. Berry's faulty design of not having a receptionist window installed during the reconstruction of Authority headquarters had left the office without a view of the front entrance. This over sight will now cost Columbia County tax payers $12,000. Mr. Berry said, "We've had a problem with people comin in and ridin the elevator upstairs and we not even knowin they're here."

The Berry solution: install cameras throughout the building.

Mr. Berry continued. "I reduced the public education from 25,000 to 10,000. So, we probably won't even use the 10,000." Once again, there were no supporting numbers in the budget or anywhere else.

The Inside Account/Outside Auditor

During the presentation the Boards' inside account and outside auditor, Richard Powell was at Mr. Berry's side. He added nothing to the presentation. (That is not a typo. The same person is both the Lake Shore Hospital Authority accountant and outside auditor).

Raises

There was some talk about raises. A motion was made to give an across the board three percent.

Mr. Berry said he didn't want a pay raise; he wanted more time off (with pay). "Give me vacation time instead of a pay raise," he said. The Board snickered.

Board Chairman Adams, who is also Representative Elizabeth Porter's Chief of Staff added, "I could add something, but I'm not going to go there. I am going to refrain."

No one asked the past Republican Chieftain Berry how much he worked; what time he came into work; how much time he spent at lunch; and what time his day really ended.

The motion failed.

Chairman Adams told the Board, "That's not to say you can't put it in at the two budget hearings."

Adams wants budget drawn up without tax increase

As the so called budget work shop was winding down, Mr. Adams also told Mr. Berry that he wanted a budget worked up with a tax rate the same as last years. This year, Mr. Berry's budget, if approved, increases the real taxes to the public and business of the County 44% over last year's rate.

Epilogue

There was no word mentioned on the continued uninsurability of the man in charge of the day to day operations of Lake Shore Hospital Authority, Hospital Authority Manager, Jackson P. Berry.

Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

On August 14, 2012, DD from Lake City wrote:

For pete’s sake, where does Columbia County find these people?  That’s one of the most backward, unprofessional meetings I’ve ever heard of.  Seems to me that we need new blood in our ‘high places’.  I am simply dumbfounded by this report.

 

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