Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake Shore Hosp Authority

LSHA Budget Hearing Tonight, Meridian Looking for $60,000 on top of County's $225k Annual Gift

Will the Gov's Board look the other way as Manager Berry turns his back on the public?

COLUMBIA COUNTY/LAKE CITY, FL – Tonight, beginning at 5:15pm, Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board (LSHA) will hold its first budget hearing. As usual, the announcement did not make it to the LSHA calendar and the public hearing is not mentioned on the evening's posted agenda. Unessential, and floating on a sea of public money, the Authority will be hearing from Meridian's President/CEO, who has apparently caught wind of the Authority's cash hoard. Meridian is asking the Authority to contribute $60,000 a year for the next 5 years.

Misrepresenting the Revenue Stream

Once again, Manager Berry and the external auditor-internal auditor-accountant (all one person) Dick Powell are misrepresenting the indigent care funding stream lease provision.

Over time, Mr. Powell, Manager Berry, and various Gov. Scott Board appointees have claimed that the Authority was required to tax the public for the money to fund indigent care. While that was true at one time, when the new leaseholder, Community Health Systems (CHS), took over the lease was restated. The new version of the lease said the following regarding the Authority's method of providing indigent care reimbursement to the hospital: The Lessor [Authority] shall provide funds to reimburse Lessee [CHS]... in an amount equal to the funds that would be generated by the levy and collection of an ad valorem tax of 1.5 mils."

The Authority's claim that "The Hospital lease requires the Authority to levy" a tax to provide indigent care funds is not true.

The LSHA Calendar: Keeping the Public Uninformed

Once again, Hospital Authority Manager Berry and the Governor's Board have shown their disdain for the public by not keeping the Authority website calendar updated.

This is an instant replay of a Manager Berry yearly event: keeping the public in the dark.

The budget hearing (the first of two) are not on the evening's agenda.  This is also not new for the Governor's Board.

Manager Berry and the Board scheduled the final budget hearing for the same night as Lake City's final hearing, September 19.


This year, Manager Berry and the Board have increased the education budget line by 50%, going from $10,000 to $15,000.

This year the Authority did not schedule a budget workshop. There is no explanation for this increase.

The expenditures in the education line in the budget have never had prior expenditures broken out. However, it appears that the money is spent for food and trinkets.


Meridian & the LSHA Board: Double Taxation

The Authority will be hearing from Meridian's President/CEO, Margarita Labarta, PhD, who has apparently caught wind of the Authority's cash hoard. Meridian is asking the Authority to contribute $60,000 a year for the next 5 years, or $300,000.

Meridian is looking for the Authority to contribute toward a required $1.5 mil match so that it can qualify for special state funding.

Every year Columbia County contributes to Meridian. In FY 2016 the County contributed $204,750. In this coming budget year this has been increased $20,475 from the pockets of Columbia County's taxpayers.

Meridian wants Columbia County's tax payers, through the Lake Shore Hospital Authority, to pony up another $60k a year for the next 5 years.

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More LSHA stories are here.

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
Tim Murphy - a nice guy, talented welder, clueless about government
Board Chairwoman 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).