The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, May 17 – The Montgomery County government’s poor management of internal service funds, which are the County government’s self-insurance fund, particularly for health insurance and liability claims, have finally resulted in the resignation of Risk Management Department Director Virginia Little. The issue will be the primary subject of a “special session” of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, which Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack prompted, and which will occur on today, Monday, May 17, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. in the Commissioners Courtroom.
In recent weeks, it has become clear that the County government and its taxpayers will suffer a shortfall in excess of $2.5 million to pay for health insurance claims during Fiscal Year 2021, which ends September 30, 2021. In response, Noack requested a Commissioners Court meeting to discuss the personnel in the Risk Management Department. In response to Noack’s request for the meeting, Little has resigned.
Montgomery County’s Risk Management Department is a mess. Terrible leadership by Department Director Little has resulted in a high turnover rate, poor job performance, and unhappy employees.
The Montgomery County government is self-insured, which means that it essentially pays itself and accumulates premiums in order to pay claims, such as workers compensation or property and casualty claims. Part of the giant account category known as “Internal Service Funds” are the funds the County government retains and invests in order to provide a pool of funds to pay insurance claims. For property and casualty losses, the County government also carries excess liability insurance which kicks in only if a particular loss reaches a certain dollar amount.
In order to manage those (workers comp, property and casualty) insurance claims, the County government has taken two different approaches. For workers compensation claims, the taxpayers have hired a “third party administrator,” York Insurance Services, to manage those types of losses as they occur. For property and casualty claims, however, the County government has managed them in-house through employees of the Risk Management Department who act as an internal claims department.
A central part of Little’s and her Department’s duties was to forecast expected costs of claims each Fiscal Year. Obviously, Little, whose failures have abounded for many years, completely let County taxpayers down in that important duty during the current year.
The Commissioners Court will address a replacement and the many failures of the Risk Management Department in a secret executive session meeting, since the Commissioners Court, particularly under County Judge Mark Keough, like to hide their “dirty laundry” from public view. Additionally, the Commissioners Court will discuss funding sources for law enforcement vehicles, the purchase of which neither the elected Constables nor the Commissioners Court properly planned.