Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Commission News

Columbia County Manager Dale Williams issues mystery health insurance memo

Columbia County's long time County Manager, Dale Williams, has issued a mystery memo about conversations he didn't hear at meetings he didn't attend. The memo, which is attached to the consent agenda of tonight's County Commission meeting, addresses this year's Lake City and Columbia County Health Insurance costs.

County Manager Dale Williams, file photo

The County Manager claims that he has "been requested to verify the final decision of the Lake City Council regarding group health insurance."

While wild claims by Columbia County's Management and County Commission are legendary, the County Manager doesn’t state who made the request or how it was made. Neither the County Manager nor any county official was at the City meeting when this was discussed.

CM Dale Williams, in his October 26th memo, states, "Blue Cross/Blue Shield had sought a 12% increase ($300,000 in additional premium)." This increase is purported to be for Lake City.

City Manager Wendell Johnson
City Manager Wendell Johnson

On October 4th, City Manager Wendell Johnson told the City Council, "I was told that it (increase) was going to be 12 to 18 percent." City Manager Johnson never presented a definitive dollar amount at a public meeting attended by the Observer.

A few moments later, Tyson Johnson of the Parks Johnson Insurance Agency told the City Council: "Wendell challenged me to bring back a policy without a rate increase. BlueCross came back with a 5% rate increase." This rate was later cut down to zero.

County Manger Dale Williams, known for not including all pertinent information, did not mention if the City's policy reduced benefits to capture the zero rate increase.

Yesterday afternoon, the City's Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, Gene Bullard, told the Observer that the City's Blue Cross/ Blue Shield policy offered the same benefits as last year, without any reductions in coverage or increase in cost.

County Manager Williams stated in his memo, "Columbia County received a 19% increase. This increase amounted to $330,000 in additional premium." There is no supporting documentation attached or referenced.

County Cuts Benefits

CM Williams continued, "The county insurance committee recommended a change to its base plan that resulted in a $460,000 premium reduction ($130,000 less than current premium)."

Neither County Manager Williams, nor his management team, brought in any competition to the Parks Johnson Agency figures, which were presented to the County's Insurance Committee, a committee comprised of county employees.

Everyone in the county, who is in the know, knows that the County Health Insurance Committee is a sham and that speaking up and out against the county's good old boys is a quick ticket to oblivion and unemployment.

As mentioned above, the Williams' memo stated, "The county insurance committee recommended a change to its base plan..." and that is what resulted in the county's savings.

The fact is the city management team brought in competition, negotiated in good faith with both parties and got the best deal for its employees, their families and the taxpayers.

The County Manager now wants everyone to believe that it got a better deal, with less work and no negotiations with anybody.

Finally, the County Manager stated the following: "The plan selected by the county is $399 monthly for the employee and $730 month for family. The same plan was priced for the city at $449 month for the employee and $1,030 month for family."

The County Manager's numbers don't add up

Once again, the County Manager has included no supporting documentation or references to back up his statement.

The Observer has scoured the City Benefit Plan and the County Manager's numbers do not add up or match up with anything.

The issue of attaching the County Manager's October 26th mystery memo, which was requested by a mystery person, and attaching it to the October 7th minutes of the meeting that the County Manger didn't attend, is par for the Columbia County course.

An explanation will no doubt fall from the lips of Columbia County's long time County Attorney, Marlin Feagle, who may once again invoke the famous Feagle "feel like it," principle of law. If it feels good, you just do it.

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

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