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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia Cnty Residents Funding Astronomical Admin Fee @ $3,561 Per LSHA Client + Med Costs

More LSHA stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Tonight, at 5:15 pm, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority meets for its hurricane delayed first budget hearing for its FY2018 budget year. The Authority, which has become a drain on the local economy, has downsized its client base from 2051 in July 2010 to an average of 144 in 2017, down from 158 clients in 2016.

Astronomical Overhead: $3,561 per client.

The Lake Shore Hospital Authority is an independent special taxing district established by the legislature. It does not provide medical care and presently has three employees: Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry (salary and benefits at $119,859 yr.); and two office staff members, one classified as an administrative assistant, and the other as a financial counselor (salary and benefits for each are $56,431 yr.).

It is not clear who does the Authority budget, but in the past it has been the outside auditor – accountant – financial advisor (all one person), Richard Powell, who has projected the total salaries for FY2018 at $232,721. That is an average salary of $77,577 per year.

The overhead to house the staff in its palatial-like headquarters is projected at $165,100 a year, or $13,758 a month.

The total projected Lake Shore Hospital Authority overhead, counting the $115,000 cost of tax collection for the Authority, is $512,821 or $3,561 per client.

Before Berry Became the Authority Manager

Jack Berry became the part time Authority Manager in April of 2010, at a time when he was having massive financial difficulties in his private business enterprises.

In 2008, prior to the Berry arrival, the Authority was being run by what was classified by Mr. Powell as "administrative services," which was long time contracted employee, Sue Fraze, at $38,320.

In 2008, not counting the cost of tax collection, the administrative expenses to run the Authority with approximately 2,000 clients, not counting Ms. Fraze's salary, was $57,000.

For the 2009 budget year, Ms. Fraze was put on the books as a full time employee ($54,014 including benefits). Administrative expenses, minus Ms. Fraze, increased to $83,000.

2010: the Pivotal Year

In 2009 the Board began discussing the hiring of an executive director.

The FY2009-10 was a hinky budget year. Included in the proposed budget was a line item for an executive director.

It appeared that Richard Powell's proposed budget was budgeting for the future and included $100,000 for an Executive Director position.

Then Board member and Jack Berry's friend, Marc Vann, moved $100,000 out of the proposed operating expenses and back into the general fund.

Operating expenses for FY2010 were now calculated to be $120,200, an increase of $37,000 over the previous year. The Authority had moved into its newly finished Taj Mahal-like headquarters.

In April 2010, Jack Berry was hired by the Authority as its first manager on a part time basis. There was no accommodation in the budget for his position.

The budget information does not state the number of Authority clients, however in July of 2010, the Authority claimed it had 2051 active clients.

2010: Affordable Care Act

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Sometime after that, the Authority mandated that before one could qualify for indigent care, the person must apply for coverage under the ACA and be denied.

In May 2015, the now full time Authority Manager Berry told the Board, that by reducing the poverty rate it had "kinda drained the pond."

Via email, your reporter asked Mr. Berry what he meant by "kinda drained the pond."  He did not respond.

Epilogue

By 2017, the amount of Authority clients that qualified for Columbia County publically funded medical care through the Lake Shore Hospital Authority had diminished to an average of 144 Authority clients.

The salaries and benefits for the 3 member staff have bloated to $232,721.

Under the reign of Mr. Berry the overhead to run the Authority has increased to $165,100 a year in 2018, up from $83,000 in FY 20008-09, a time before Mr. Berry became employed by the Governor's Authority Board.

The Lake Shore Hospital Authority Budget Hearing begins at 5:15 pm tonight and is followed by an illegally scheduled meeting of the Board, if they decide to hold it. 

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LSHA 8 (clockwise from top):
Koby Adams - political operative and Liz Porter's Chief of staff
Brandon Biel - latest Scott appointee and a young republican on the move
Dr. Waseem Khan - a board member who
lives out of the county
Janet Creel - real estate broker
Ron Foreman - father of the County Atny, recently resigned from the board.
Tim Murphy - a nice guy, talented welder, clueless about government, elected to County Commission, no longer on board
Lory Chancy - her main job appears to be not to answer questions and to protect Columbia County's legendary political operative, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry (in the middle).