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Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Authority

LSHA's Berry & His Two Employees Score 3% Raises Governor's Board Oblivious to CPI

The actual increases are a different story

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  Monday night at 5:15 pm Gov. Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board met for its final budget hearing. A few brief comments were made by the Authority's inside-outside auditor-accountant-financial advisor, Richard Powell, and Chairwoman Chancy. Resident Barbara Lemley asked a few questions and then the discussion began about giving raises to the Authority's three employees and concluded with Board member Ron Foreman proposing a rate 15 times the CPI (Consumer Price Index, or the Rate of Inflation).

Richard Powell explained, "The Board is required to show that they appropriate approximately 3.4 million dollars, 1.5mils, for indigent health care."

Chairwoman Chancy added, "I have one clarification. All salaries come out of the Operating Fund. This is not from the taxpayers. It’s from the lease revenue."

Later on in the meeting Board member Koby Adams reminded the Board that all the money coming into the Authority was "taxpayer money."

Barbara Jeffords Lemley asked, "Why is the budget not posted on the website per the Florida Statutes?"

Ms Chancy responded, "It hasn’t been adopted yet."  (Website Requirements)

What About the Food?

Taxpayer money has been used to pay for food for events sponsored by the Lake Shore Hospital, which is owned by the second largest hospital operator in the Nation, a multibillion dollar corporation, Community Health Systems.


The Healthy Choice?
Chicken Alfredo was the main course. It was prepared with regular pasta and heavy sauce and came with garlic bread. Read more about Ladies Night Out here and another Auth. sponsored event: Saggy Boobs, Droopy Eyes, Mommy Makeovers.

Ms. Jeffords Lemley asked, "What reference is used to justify paying for food? What is the reference Mr. Powell and the Board uses for paying for food?"

Accountant Powell answered, "The understanding I have there is no prohibition in the Florida statute against special districts from paying for food items as long as it serves the government purpose of the authority."

Ms. Chancy added, "And when we have paid for food it has been under educational circumstances."

Mr. Adams joined, "And under the educational portion of the budget."

Ms. Jeffords Lemley followed up, "How is paying for food a direct benefit to the indigent population?

Board member Janet Creel answered, "Under the cloak of education it would be covered..."

In February of 2008, then Board Attorney Marlin Feagle referenced the Authority Charter regarding whether it was within the mission of the Authority and whether it was a direct benefit to the indigent of Columbia County to sponsor Health Fairs. The Board voted unanimously that it "was outside the realm of what the Authority was here to do." (Feb. 8, 2011 minutes)

The Raises

The conversation picked up where it left off at the end of the first budget hearing. LSHA Berry Raise on the Hosp Auth Docket Tonight. Will the Gov's. Board Jack Him Up?

Mr. Adams asked that the motion to give Mr. Berry a raise be withdrawn (10%). "If we are going to talk about salaries let's just throw it out here in the pit and let's fight it out," he said.

Ms. Creel said on Sept. 14, "I don't think they should all receive the same amount of 10%. I think we expect a lot out of Jack."

Ms. Creel said, "When I made the motion I thought there would be compromise. It was like I stepped in a bed of ants. I withdraw the motion."

Mr. Adams said he wanted raises automatically tied to cost of living, evaluations, and taxes. "If you all were up for it, let's work out some kind of system to do an automatic step."

Dr. Waseem Khan asked, "So when taxes go down you are going to lower their salary?

Mr. Adams responded, "No. It would be capped."

Board member Tim Murphy wanted to know, "Who would evaluate the evaluation?"

Mr. Adams thought the evaluations should be done by Richard Powell, (the financial advisor) and Authority Attorney Fred Koberlein, after which they would report back to the Board.

Mr. Powell came up with a scheme that he said he could use which averages things: "X employee had exceptional things, so we might increase that by 50%, or something like that."

The Downside of an Employee Bonus: accountability

Mr. Powell explained the downside of employee bonuses. He said, "According to the Florida statutes, you have to have a bonus plan that's adopted and then you have to have a period of performance and then you have to have performance measures and then you do it."

Sometime later Mr. Adams said, "Bonus is a bad word here. Throw it out in the garbage."

And Now the CPI (Consumer Price Index or the Rate of Inflation)

During the last budget hearing, Financial Advisor Powell told the Board, that inflation has pretty much run about 2% since 2008. A look at the inflation rate calculator shows that inflation in 2015 is 0.2% and the 2008 rate was .1%.

There was discussion about the tax roll and then Mr. Powell added, "Usually employees get like CPI. It's easy and objective to come up with the aggregate percentage based on those two indices (CPI and tax roll)."

Mr. Murphy said the board would decide within a range. Mr. Adams said that his idea would make the raise automatic.

Ms. Chancy said she liked the idea of the formula. "This holds us up every year. It is not clear what else the board does. It's there. It's taken care of."

Mr. Adams wanted the policy "implemented this year."

The newest Scott appointee, Ron Foreman, joined in, "You want to know what my opinion is, a 3% raise across the board -- right now tonight, for all employees of the hospital authority and we'll be done with it."

Ms. Creel said the formula "might be a more futuristic thing."

Dr. Khan added, "I agree. I think just use the CPI now -- go for a formula next time."

Ron Foreman: wanted a raise 15 times the rate of inflation

Board member Ron Foreman made a motion to increase the three employees of the authority by 3% each, which is 15 times the current rate of inflation of 0.2%

Mr. Adams added, "I would like to amend the motion. With the raises we implement the thing that I just said."

Mr. Foreman responded, "You amend it, I accepted it."

The 3% across the board raise passed unanimously.

Epilogue

As demonstrated in the spread sheet at the beginning of this article, the real raise for the two administrative assistants was 5.34% and 6.48%. Manager Berry received a whopping 21.87% raise.

Not bad for an administrator who refuses to answer questions and won't tell anyone his work schedule.

Comments (to add a comment go here)

On Sept. 25, Charles wrote:

What's new? Government run amok

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On Sept. 24, P from Tampa wrote:

WOW! Where do i sign up?

 

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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