Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hospital Authority

Lake Shore Hosp Authority floating on a sea of cash
Final budget hearing today at 05:30 pm

By Stew Lilker

Jack Berry reads the budget
Hosp Authority Manager, Jack Berry reads the budget out loud.

Tonight, Monday, September 20th at 5:30 pm, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority will hold its final budget hearing for the budget year of 2011.

This year's budget, as in other years, was prepared by the Authority's financial advisor, accountant and outside auditor, Richard Powell. This is not a misprint. It is all the same person.

As in other years, the budget is not available for review on the Authority's web site. Also, as in other years, there are no yearly comparisons, so it is impossible to tell if the budget lines are increasing or decreasing. The Authority budget workshops consist only of a budget reading. (This year's budget is available here).

The budget also does not include actual expenditures making it impossible to determine how close the hospital authority came to its proposed budget.

At last week's budget hearing, Authority Chairman Vann explained that Mr. Charles Briscoe had a private audience with the Authority's Outside Auditor - Inside Accountant Powell and said that he understood that Mr. Powell answered any questions that Mr. Briscoe had concerning the budget.

Charles BriscoeCEO Charles Briscoe addresses the Authority Board.

Charles Briscoe is the CEO of HCA's Lake City Medical Center. (For more information about HCA go here).

Mr. Briscoe commented on his meeting with Mr. Powell: “Mr. Powell was very generous with his time and answered all of our questions. I think we spent close to an hour and a half with him and he was very helpful in explaining all the different categories and funds in this budget... I understand the problem and concern with the capital fund. Those were cash dollars which were brought out from the community under the guise of, ‘We’re going to make capital improvements.’”

At no time during the past five years that the Observer has been following the Lake Shore Hospital Authority has Mr. Powell or anybody from the Hospital Authority spent "an hour and a half" explaining all the different categories of funds in the budget. This may be in good measure why the Authority Board has the "deer in the headlight" look during the budget hearings and workshops, which again like this year are nothing more than someone reading the budget.

With the Hospital Authority floating, as usual, on a sea of cash, it is obvious why there haven't been any public explanations of the kind that Charles Briscoe received privately. 

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