By DENISE GRANT
Findlay Council appeared ready at its regular meeting Tuesday to step out of the power struggle between Mayor Lydia Mihalik and Auditor Jim Staschiak over the city’s management of workers’ compensation.
Councilwoman Holly Frische, R-1, wanted council’s Appropriations Committee to gather more information about the two companies vying for city business, but committee members didn’t agree.
Frische also asked that a letter from CompManagement Health Systems, Dublin, the city’s longtime third-party administrator for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, be read into the record. In the letter, company Vice President Mark MaGinn touted his company’s service record with the city and criticized its competitor.
“We feel the institutional knowledge gained through our long partnership has been a tremendous asset to both organizations and contributed significantly to the success of your workers’ compensation program,” MaGinn said. “…We understand the financial pressure public entities face and do not want you to make a decision that could cost your municipality thousands of additional dollars.”
Staschiak favors CompManagement, due to its favorable history with the city.
On Tuesday he repeatedly pressed the committee chairman, Councilman Grant Russel, R-At-Large, to decide whether the Appropriations Committee would hold meetings to screen proposals by the two companies. Staschiak said he needed to know to determine whether to schedule meetings on the issue with the mayor’s office.
But Councilman Tom Shindledecker, R-At-Large, said there was no need for the committee to take up the issue, since the decisions are going to be made “by that side of the aisle,” pointing toward administrators.
Shindledecker serves on the Appropriations Committee with Russel and council members John Harrington, R-5, Dina Ostrander, R-3, and Jeff Wobser, R-At-Large.
On Tuesday, Wobser questioned whether Mihalik and Staschiak had already met on the issue, and if any progress was made.
“As one elected official to two other elected officials, get this done,” Wobser said.
At least part of the decision has already been made by Mihalik.
Staschiak was authorized by council at its April 17 meeting to enter into a group plan contract with the Ohio Municipal League, a nonprofit group based in Columbus that serves the interests of municipalities.
The league currently contracts with CompManagement as its third-party administrator for workers’ compensation, but announced in late May that it was switching providers and would instead contract with CareWorksComp, a newly formed company, also based in Dublin. The change becomes effective Jan. 1.
By that time, Staschiak had already contracted with CompManagement and paid a $6,000 fee.
Mihalik then overrode Staschiak’s decision with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and went with the league’s new choice.
With the deadline to declare providers now past, CareWorksComp will remain the city’s provider until the next enrollment opening in two years.
Law Director Don Rasmussen has said the mayor, acting as the city’s “contracting officer,” had the authority to make the change.
On Tuesday, Mihalik said her administration doesn’t receive the communications it wants from CompManagement or the auditor’s office. And, she said much of the success being claimed by CompManagement, including the lower rates, is based on the city’s own “culture of safety.”
She also questioned the accuracy of other statements made by MaGinn in the letter.
Mihalik also wants to transfer some of the city’s workers’ compensation duties from the auditor’s office to the city’s human resources department, but that would require the cooperation of the auditor’s office.