Lawsuits could affect county’s insurance premiums

By AUTUMN HUGHES

Posted 1/23/18

The cost of lawsuits against Bradley County may mean increased insurance rates in the next fiscal year. The Bradley County Finance Committee discussed the issue during a meeting Monday afternoon when County Commission Chairman Louie Alford asked for clarification on the payment of lawsuits.

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Lawsuits could affect county’s insurance premiums

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The cost of lawsuits against Bradley County may mean increased insurance rates in the next fiscal year.

The Bradley County Finance Committee discussed the issue during a meeting Monday afternoon when County Commission Chairman Louie Alford asked for clarification on the payment of lawsuits.

Bradley County Finance Director Rena’ Samples said there is a $5,000 deductible per incident of lawsuit. “The limits are per case” and based on how it’s settled.

“We normally just pay the $5,000,” she said.

Alford asked if officials foresee the county’s liability going up and affecting the county’s budget. Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said he does, but noted the $5,000 is charged back to the department involved in the lawsuit.

“At this rate they’re going to charge us more on our premiums,” Finance Committee Chairman Milan Baker said, adding he believes the county will be “hit with” a premium increase at its next insurance renewal date.

Committee member Dan Rawls said he has talked to County Attorney Crystal Freiberg about this issue “and without a doubt it’s (the insurance premium rate) going to go up.”

Committee member Thom Crye mentioned approximately 10 lawsuits against the county with a potential $20 million value, and noted he believes a lack of training and supervision has contributed to the issue.

Alford said he believes an increase in insurance premiums could be a problem when county leaders begin budgeting for next fiscal year.

In other business:

• Davis gave a report on use of county credit cards. He said there were no charges made by his office or Bradley County Fire-Rescue, eight made by the Assessor of Property’s Office, four by the Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency, and 10 by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office; none of the charges were local, except for one made by the BCSO.

“I think it’s remarkable the progress that we’ve made,” Crye said, and Rawls agreed.

• Approved a budget amendment related to Bradley County Schools, moving $500,000 from the Undesignated Fund Balance to the Regular Capital Outlay for building improvements.

• Approved $5,000 in legal fees for Bradley County EMS.

• Approved $5,000 in legal fees for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.

• Approved $1,029 for the BCSO related to repairs to a 2010 Chevy Impala.

• Approved paperwork related to the County Commission’s December decision to make four $25,000 annual donations to the Community Foundation for the Taylor Spring Park project, for a total of $100,000.

Blake, Crye and Committee member Mike Hughes voted in favor of the measure, with Rawls voting against it.

• Approved the calendar of meetings to discuss the 2017-18 budget.

• Blake asked Davis to review the county’s policy on outstanding purchase orders, and report back with a recommendation “to tighten it up.” He said it is his opinion that if purchase orders cannot be secured in 90 to 120 days, the policy needs to be reviewed. Blake said he understands there are exceptions, but it should not take a full year to complete a purchase order.

Crye agreed, noting 90 days should be sufficient to close out a purchase order.

The Finance Committee’s next meeting is slated for noon on Monday, Feb. 5, in the County Mayor’s Conference Room in the Bradley County Courthouse Annex.

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