County to revamp Jackson governance
By Lou Ortiz
The Financial Recovery Board of the Public Health Trust of Miami-Dade County is coming to an end.
The county's Public Safety and Healthcare Administration Committee on Sept. 11 will hold a hearing on a proposed ordinance aimed chiefly at ending the tenure of the seven-member Financial Recovery Board, established in May 2011 to "stop the fiscal bleeding" in the system, as characterized by County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez.
When the board took over, the system was "facing one of the most serious financial crises in its history" and had a projected "deficit of $90 million, "following a deficit exceeding $200 million in the immediate prior fiscal year," according to county documents.
Since then the recovery board has steadily turned things around, with a projected deficit this year of $10 million to $15 million and a $35 million surplus expected next year.
If the commission eventually approves, the recovery board would become a seven-member board of trustees of the Public Health Trust, down from 17 members who ran the system before the board took over.
"It puts into a permanent vehicle the [recovery board], which is working quite well," said its chairman, Marcos J. Lapciuc, who has led the financial stabilization charge with the panel. "It keeps the board smaller and nimbler with the same autonomy that it now enjoys."
Anytime the commission establishes a financial recovery board, members "shall become the voting trustees of the reestablished board of trustees," according to the proposed ordinance, which calls for a 10-member nominating council to screen future trustee candidates and select — by majority vote — those to be considered for appointment by the county commission.
A tie vote by the nominating council would disqualify the person for consideration by the commission.
In the present case, the nominating council would convene to assign members of the expiring recovery board to staggered terms, contingent upon county commission approval.
Besides Mr. Lapciuc, recovery board members are Darryl K. Sharpton, the vice chairman; Joaquin del Cueto, secretary; Joe Arriola, treasurer; and Michael Bileca, Mojdeh L. Khaghan and Stephen S. Nuell.
Under the proposed ordinance, one member would serve an initial term of four years; two would serve three-year terms; two would serve two years each; and two would serve one year each.
"Voting members appointed to the reestablished board of trustees for a term of less than three years shall remain eligible to serve three consecutive and complete terms of two years," the document says. "Voting members appointed to an initial term of three or more years shall be eligible to serve one additional term of three years."
But a trustee could be removed by a majority vote of the county commission. Commissioners could also by two-thirds vote waive the six-year term limit requirement.
The proposed ordinance also outlines the makeup of future boards. One member would be a physician authorized to practice in Florida; one representative each from the University of Miami Board of Trustees and Florida International University Board of Trustees; and the chairman of the county commission and a commissioner designated by the chairman.
The chair of the commission could bow out and designate two commissioners.
The county mayor would also designate a representative to the board, along with the chair of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation. "Absent any disapproval at the next regularly scheduled commission meeting, the designees shall be deemed ratified," the document says.
The new board would also have non-voting members. They would include the director of the office of Countywide Healthcare Planning; the dean of the University of Miami School of Medicine; the dean of the Florida International University School of Medicine; the dean of the University of Miami School of Nursing; the president of the Public Health Trust medical staff; and the presidents of the local collective bargaining units representing employees of the trust.
Mr. Lupciuc said the proposed ordinance outlines "a better vesting and selection process of new board members. The depth of knowledge of the board is there and the learning curve is large."
The smaller board, as the Financial Recovery Board, leads to quicker decisions, faster action and "better focused meetings," he said. "There is a higher quality of debate."
"Those are all things that Jackson needed for Jackson to be less bureaucratic," he said, "and more responsive to the changing winds of healthcare."
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