Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake Shore Hosp Authority

LSHA Berry Raise on the Hosp Auth Docket Tonight Will the Gov's. Board Jack Him Up?

Mr. Berry is paid $57,548 per employee for supervision.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  Last week's LSHA budget hearing once again had the Governor's Authority Board demonstrating that when it comes to unbelievability, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority is a hard act to follow.

The Authority's forever outside auditor – accountant – financial advisor (one person), Richard Powell, began his presentation by telling the Board, "Jack [Manager Jack Berry] asked me if I would give a quick overview. The budget is basically unchanged from the time of the workshop in August."

There was no budget workshop in August.

Richard Powell then read the budget. As usual, it was impossible to follow along.

Board Chairwoman Lory Chancy then asked for comments. No one spoke.

Turning to Mr. Powell, Ms. Chancy asked, "Now Richard, there's no pay raises for the year, is that correct?

Mr. Powell answered, "There's no pay raises."

Board Member Janet Creel
She Wants 10% for Manager Berry

Columbia County's Constitutional Officers and the County Manager Compared: Salaries and the cost per employee of supervision. Mr. Berry tops the list: $57,548 per employee.                                      ++ The complete spread sheet is here.

Ms. Creel asked how long it's been since "Jack had a raise?"

Mr. Berry answered, "I've been 5% since I've been here."

Ms. Creel said, "I'd like to make a motion that we give em' a 10% raise."

Chancy:  We have a motion on the floor. Do we have a second?

Board member Dr. Waseem Khan, who appears to live in Alachua County, asked Manager Berry for his salary.

Mr. Berry answered, "88 [thousand] with the health insurance and all."

There was a short discussion about the three LSHA employees' health insurance.

Mr. Powell jumped in and explained that employee health insurance was put in the pay checks. He added, "To make the employees whole, you adjusted their salary to compensate for that."

Dr. Khan said, "So you gave him a raise."

Board member Koby Adams, Representative Elizabeth Porter's Chief of Staff asked, "How much was that, Mr. Powell?"

Mr. Powell answered, "It was not the same for each employee. I think for Jack it was about $8000."

Mr. Berry jumped in, "Yeah. With the tax and stuff. The only pay raises that have been given since 2010."

There was more discussion about Manager Berry's raise(s).

Board member Tim Murphy was skeptical about Mr. Berry not having raises.

Mr. Powell added to the confusion, "It's hard to remember. I looked at some old budgets. I have in 9/30/12 that there was a 5% raise. 3% of that -- 12 was the year that the state required employees to pay retirement. (raise was for 13-14) The year after that there was no raise. I think one year there was a 5% raise that included the 3%. The next year there was none. The next year there was 5%. And then in the current year there was a health insurance adjustment." Mr. Powell did not call that a raise.

Mr. Berry complained, "None of the employees actual take-home salary was -- didn't get anything on that."

There was discussion about the inflation rate and the reduction of an employee.

Chairwoman Chancy asked, "The motion on the floor is specifically directed at Jack. Do we want to amend this to all employees?"

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

It is not clear what Manager Berry does with his time. He said he keeps no time records; has limited computer skills; and has had major difficulty using email. Over time, Mr. Berry has had a checkered history with ethics and other issues.

Dr. Khan said Mr. Berry received a 5% raise.

Mr. Berry responded, "Well I actually got 2%, because I did not get a raise when they did the 5%. Last year I got 5%. But I didn't get the raise at the time of the retirement thing. That came all out of my pay."

It wasn't clear if anybody understood what Mr. Berry was talking about.

In FY 2016, Columbia County's taxpayers are going to pay $19,048 into Jack Berry's retirement account. In FY 2015, last year, Mr. Berry's retirement account was fattened by $16,897.  His retirement pay will increase $2,151 dollars next year.

Mr. Adams said, "We have to put this into context... He has two employees... Jack's a friend of mine. I've been on this board for seven years. You also have to remember that the people paying taxes out of their pocket -- some of em' haven't had a raise since 2008. There's a lot of em' that haven't. Their property's gone down... So, I'm not inclined to vote for a raise."

Ms. Creel asked, "At any percent?"

Mr. Adams replied, "At any percent. We just made em' whole on the deduction for the Obama care thing. To me, makin' him whole is a raise. Maybe next year we could look at somethin' but I'm just not inclined to do it."

Mr. Murphy added, "My inkling is if we were way out of line on our salary base, it would definitely be a consideration. In my research, we're definitely not out of line."

After some brief discussion Mr. Murphy continued, "We have to look at the big picture -- nationwide... Some of the numbers that we shared out here are well over the line. They're doin' pretty good."

Dr. Khan opined, "I think Jack has saved us a lot of money. (Thinks his raise is reasonable considering inflation) I think if you overlook that you're making a mistake. I think his salary is his salary, but he has direct influence on how much we spend and how much we save; I think to keep his salary at least at inflation. I think that's reasonable. I don't think that's wasting taxpayer money. That's making sure he does his job and continues to try and save taxpayer money and look at what we are spending."

The newest Hospital Authority member, Ron Foreman seemed to be in favor of giving Mr. Berry a 5% increase.

Mr. Foreman asked how a one-time bonus would cost the employees "35.65%."

Mr. Berry told Mr. Foreman, "That's correct."

Mr. Foreman continued, "I don't understand the mathematics. Could somebody explain that to me?"

Mr. Berry answered [as spoken], "Because of when it be added on to their regular pay check, in a one-time bonus, that would put them into a category that that much taxes be taken out."

Chairwoman Chancy added, "It's much easier on the paycheck to receive a pay raise than a bonus. (Silence) OK. No other discussion? On the budget? (Silence) Is there any public input?"

Attorney Koberlein refuses to respect the Sunshine

Authority Attorney Koberlein continues to disrespect the Sunshine law and continues to speak so low that it is mostly impossible to hear him from 10 feet away. The more he is asked to speak up, the more Mr. Koberlein digs in.

Mr. Koberlein said something to Ms. Chancy, "Madam Chair, did you mention (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) As long as you did. I didn't hear it."

Ms. Chancy answered, "I don't know whether I did - anybody else heard it or not. Some tabling that (unintelligible)."

An unidentified Board member asked, "When is the next meeting?"

Manager Berry answered, "Next Monday night."

The public will soon know if political operative and Hospital Authority Manager, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry will be getting a raise.

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