Findlay Council spent most of its regular meeting Tuesday refereeing a dispute between Mayor Lydia Mihalik and Auditor Jim Staschiak over the city’s choice of group plan providers with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Much of council’s time was spent questioning Mihalik and Staschiak, trying to determine who did what, when and why, and if any of it was authorized.

Councilwoman Holly Frische said council was given a primer on the issue last week when Mihalik, Law Director Don Rasmussen and Don Essex, director of human resources, met individually and privately with each member of council to explain a decision made by the mayor to override a contract awarded by Staschiak for the group plan in April.

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 which serves the interests of municipalities.

The league currently contracts with CompManagement Health Systems, Dublin, 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 on Jan. 1.

By that time, Staschiak had already contracted with CompManagement and paid a $6,000 fee.

Mihalik then overrode Staschiak’s declaration of providers with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and went with the league’s new choice.

Mihalik insisted Tuesday that there have been ongoing problems with CompManagement. She cited a lack of communication, and the failure to address excessive claims being made by at least one city employee, who has filed 15 workers’ compensation claims over 20 years of employment.

Rasmussen said the mayor, acting as the city’s “contracting officer,” has the authority to make the change, and the new company has agreed to waive some of its fees to offset the money paid to CompManagement.

However, Staschiak said the current provider has a proven record of service with the city, and has lowered premiums and capped liabilities.

He said based on the limited information he has on the new company, CompManagement Health Systems still looks like the better deal. He said his recommendation is based on history and research.

Representatives of both the Ohio Municipal League and the new company, CareWorksComp, attended Tuesday’s meeting but gave few numbers or details on the new contract when pressed for information by council.

It was unclear if council will be able to compare the contracts side-by-side before the city actually signs on with the new provider.

Councilman Jeff Wobser, R-At-Large, said without information from both companies, council won’t be able to tell which company is making the better offer. And with CareWorksComp being a newly formed company, Wobser said there will be no performance data that can be compared, either.

Mihalik also said Tuesday that she would like 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.

Staschiak said he just wants to know who’s in charge. He said if the administration takes over the city’s workers’ compensation program, it will then be subject to audits and liabilities for the program.

Wobser was dubious of any effort that would require Mihalik and Staschiak to work together, “given their history” of arguments.

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