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Meetings entertain at time

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My Views

By Thomas Barr

 Some things you just can’t describe.

And other things you don’t want to relive.

But, until we get our video cameras rolling on our new website, to be unveiled in a couple of weeks, you will have to visually imagine the scene through the written word.

In 26-plus years, I’ve seen some pretty bizarre things. Most often, they involved meetings that went awry.

But seldom do you have those Kodak moments twice in the same day at two different meetings.

Close your eyes and let your mind drift into the Bullitt County Courtroom on Tuesday, Nov. 16. It’s a rainy day. We need the rain.

Bullitt Fiscal Court is holding its regular meeting.

Maybe the most difficult topic to understand is on the agenda - insurance. Health insurance for employees to be more exact.

As he has done for the past dozen years, Buddy Smith presented the magistrates and county judge with a recommendation on the insurance provider for 2011.

In past political forums, there had been some campaign rhetoric about issues over the health insurance plans. There was information withheld from the county judge and employees were not happy.

On this particular Tuesday, the tension was high as Smith announced that of the companies he contacted, only Humana agreed to write a policy.

Yet, there was grumblings that a second company had wanted to get bids but was not privy to information on claims.

Without claim information, you won’t get an insurance bid.

A third wheel in the insurance game was the policies offered by the state of Kentucky.

A committee of employees was meeting but had not included Smith in the conversations. The committee was pushing for the state insurance plan.

After 30 minutes of bantering about why fiscal court members seemed to be against listening to the outside proposal, Phil Brown was given an opportunity. However, the companies he contacted to write up a proposal declined.

And with the state insurance policy primed to charge the county an estimated $200,000-$300,000 more annually in its portion of the premiums, that option was quickly dismissed.

Now, after an hour of “discussions”, there was still only one choice - Humana. The lowest hike would be 8 percent but three other plans were available.

Personally, I would be thankful that the county had any plan to purchase.

The topic of who got what information in a timely manner reared its ugly head.

Not being able to get information due to no paperwork being on file with Humana, Roberts said her office spent “countless” hours to get the information.

She said taxpayers should be “appalled” at the hours it took to get the information.

But Smith said he sent the information to county officials within a day of receiving it from Humana.

While no one came out and said it, you can dream your little dream and read between the lines. Smith was being accused of withholding information to make it impossible for others to submit a proposal.

As a taxpayer, I am a bit appalled at the handling of the entire situation.

Since there is an insurance committee, why isn’t it meeting with Smith on a regular basis. It would be nice for a change to start this insurance process a couple of months earlier for magistrates. 

From getting a claims history for a prospective bidder, I understand it is difficult. Still, waiting under six weeks before a policy expires puts court members behind the eight ball.

What really worries me is if professional people who attend fiscal court meetings see the treatment dished out to other professional people, a lot of people may not want to do business with Bullitt County.

Quite frankly, I would consider Bullitt County to be fortunate. If I was the only company with an insurance plan and I had been taken to the woodshed by the county’s leader like Humana suffered recently, I think I would have taken my marbles - and my insurance proposal - and gone home.

I’m not saying the process couldn’t be better. And the judge’s office is now on the list to get any information it wants from its insurance carrier.

Now, if the county would put that effort into trying to make sure there is a wellness program started for the employees, premiums may go down for all of the workers.

OK, you can open your eyes for just a moment. Take a deep breath and imagine going to a school board meeting.

These monthly meetings are available by going to the school system’s website and watching the video.

Time to close your eyes and begin to imagine.

I knew there was something up when Tom Rogers, who oversees the construction projects for the school district, had a small step stool under his chair.

When the issue of some concerns over the height of toilets, sinks and water coolers in the Head Start classes at Brooks Elementary School arose, the fun began.

The role of the step stool was unveiled. Rogers carefully climbed onto the stool. His point was that the architects installed regular adult facilities in a Head Start room.

As Rogers explained his concerns, the audience was rolling. It was the most fun anyone has probably ever had at a board meeting.

The problem is that the theatrics were a bit over the edge.

The changes were supposedly requested by OVEC, which is actually leasing the space from the school system for the Head Start programs.

Also on the agenda for a change order was a larger commercial dishwasher requested by OVEC. That would also require a change order.

The humor was outrageous. However, I don’t know if that is the place.

The problem is very apparent. There is a dispute and the third party in the controversy was not present. 

The board correctly moved to suggest that the architects, Rogers and OVEC get together to reach some type of resolution.

There was definitely an Oscar to be won that evening. And the prop was great. The point could have been driven home with a little less drama.

Open your eyes.

Just think when the video versions are available.