Saturday, May 12, 2012

Critical City Council Decision Yet to Make it into Revised 2012 Budget

Six months seems a long time to wait for budget numbers for a San Angelo's City Council decision made in November 2011.  Council approved Aetna as its health insurance provider at a projected annual savings of $480,000 under an exclusive provider arrangement with San Angelo Community Medical Center.  My initial request stated: . 

Thursday, November 17, 2011 1:25:25 PM CST - When does HR Director Lisa Marley think she'll have the updated health insurance numbers for 2011-2012 (based on council's recent decisions)?

City Human Resources Director Marley responded that same day:

Thursday, November 17, 2011 4:45 PM - Adjusting the budget due to the Council’s Tuesday decisions will be handled during the budget mid-year presentation to Council.  Finance generally does that around March of each year. 
After waiting patiently, and then some, I dusted off my request and sent it to the City's Public Information Office:

Saturday, April 14, 2012 1:18 PM - As it's April I'd like the revised budget numbers for health insurance from the budget mid year assessment
The City's reply came within a week:

Friday, Apr 20 03:17 PM - Our budget office said there has been no revised budget numbers for health insurance yet. I’m checking to see when or if there will be one.
I waited two more weeks to ask for the third time:

Saturday, May 5 11:39 AM - Are there any new budget numbers based on Council's decision last fall?
The echo continued

Monday, May 7 07:55 AM - No new budget numbers at this point. I'll see if I can get information on when our budget office will have new numbers. :
The situation struck me as odd, so I wrote back:

Monday, May 7 09:12 PM - I remain confused as to how the city operates if a City Council decision made in November isn't translated into budget numbers for management to use.
It got odder with the city's reply:

Wednesday, May 9 09:08 PM - I'll let you know what I find out from our budget office. They have been busy preparing expense budgets for next year.  
I may have been less than charitable in my reply.:

Wednesday, May 9 10:00 PM - That's what makes the health insurance thing so strange.  Expense budgets for the coming year are usually based on revised budgets, i.e. the most current numbers/thinking.

It became clear to me the city wasn't interested in sharing the true picture when HR Director Lisa Marley stated they didn't have numbers for health insurance plan years (calendar) and only had fiscal year.  Of course, the City has plan year information.  That's the way the health insurance company keeps the city's data.   

Given the trajectory, which health insurance budget number will come out first, revised 2012 or draft 2013?   Recall the State Comptroller's Office awarded the city a silver medal for transparency.

Update 12-17-12:  The City stuck to their original budget guns, a year after making a $500,000 change and approving a last minute budget amendment   Incompetence or mendacity?

1 comment:

Redman said...

I want to thank you for the research that you do and as a city employee Im glad that you are bringing attention to the fact that the city will stonewall, mislead or just outright lie to keep its agenda hidden.My fellow workers and I are looking into the legality of some the health care decisions and will talking with the state attorney general soon