ELYRIA — The Lorain County commissioners will meet publicly next Wednesday with county Auditor Mark Stewart and county Treasurer Dan Talarek to review how the county pays its bills.
The meeting comes in the wake of a contentious and public feud with the commissioners and county Administrator Jim Cordes on one side and Stewart on the other over a threat from the company providing prescription drug coverage to cut off coverage to the 4,500 people on the county’s health plan over an unpaid bill.
EnvisionRxOptions told the county in a May 26 email that it would cease providing coverage unless a $280,289.42 past-due bill was paid by noon the next day. Stewart, who was on vacation, reportedly told the commissioners that he wouldn’t be able to issue the check until the next week.
The county ultimately reached a deal to keep coverage intact by agreeing to pay the overdue bill and another bill for $228,339.27 by June 1.
The commissioners have said that Stewart has refused to work with them to speed up bill paying, while Stewart has accused Cordes of manufacturing the crisis and said that budget cutbacks in his office have reduced the speed with which he can pay bills. He has said the lack of overtime money has led him to adopt a first-in, first-out style of bill paying, although he does pay health insurance bills every two weeks.
Commissioner Tom Williams, who arranged the meeting, said next week’s discussions won’t be about assigning blame, but rather about trying to figure out what the county can do to speed up the process.
The commissioners have already given Cordes the authority to approve health insurance bills after they arrive in the county, which has cut about a week off the process.
Previously, the bills would come into the commissioners’ office and be forwarded to Stewart’s office, which in turn sent them to the commissioners for approval. After that approval, the check would be issued two weeks later.
Williams said he’s hopeful the county can streamline the process so vendors aren’t waiting for checks and possibly implement a system to pay bills electronically.
In other business
Commissioners approved putting a 0.6-mill renewal levy for the Lorain County Board of Mental Health on the November ballot.
Charlie Neff, the agency’s executive director, said the levy generates a little more than $3 million annually, accounting for about 13 percent of Mental Health’s roughly $25 million annual budget.
The five-year levy expires at the end of the year.
The commissioners also voted to approve the purchase of two 2012 Dodge Grand Caravans that will be used by the Lorain County Veterans Service Commission to transport veterans.
The minivans were purchased from the Sliman’s Dodge in Amherst at $19,796 each. The bids were cheaper than had the county purchased the vehicles through a state program, Commissioner Lori Kokoski said.
The Veterans Service Commission’s earlier request to purchase vans was rejected by the commissioners because the price for two vans was around $50,000, which is higher than the amount the county can purchase without going out for bid.
Once the bid process was completed, Kokoski said, the vans were able to be purchased.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.