Kenosha County Board Supervisor Joe Clark is again urging the City of Kenosha Administration and Common Council to settle the ongoing dispute over the county Division of Health.

“The idea is simple,” Clark said: “Pay the money owed. The City and County can then talk about changes to the contract for Division of Health Services.”

“There was a deal earlier last week between County Executive Kreuser and Mayor Keith Bosman to settle and to bring the settlement forward to the leadership of their respective bodies. Based on my conversations with the Mayor today, he presented it to some Council members who indicated they don’t want to accept it,” Clark said.

“They indicated they would rather go to court,” Clark said. “My question to them is this, ‘What are you getting by going to court?’ It’s a waste of time and taxpayer money to continue this when it can be easily resolved with a cash settlement and future discussions about the contract.”

The Common Council, Clark said, is mixing the two issues. “We performed the services, you owe the money. When you pay the bill, we’ll talk about the contract. Meanwhile, you’re wasting time and taxpayer money by refusing to accept a settlement because you want changes to the contract, or to see the contract eliminated,” he said.

Clark described the settlement: The City owes the County $551,025 as the result of underpayments starting in 2005. In 2011, there was a City overpayment of $147,000, based on the contracted service allocation arrangement. The City would not receive a refund for the overpayment, nor for an expected overpayment of $70,000 for 2012, which reduces the amount owed to the County to $334,000. The County would settle for $300,000, which would be paid in increments of $100,000 starting in 2013.

Clark said Thursday that many attempts were made over the past four years to resolve the issue through discussions with City leaders, but the talks led nowhere.

“The reason we filed suit in the first place is that we were faced with the statute of limitations on the outstanding bill. We had to protect our interests,” Clark said. “It has always been the desire of County leaders to settle this issue outside of court. We have asked many times to go to binding arbitration, but the City has refused.”

Clark said the County has taken many steps to address City concerns, including placing a City-appointed member on the Board of Health, and making changes to cost allocations so that the Kenosha Unified School District was paying its full share of costs.

“County Executive Kreuser and members of the County Board have said from the very beginning that we would discuss making more changes to the Health Division contract with the City, but first we wanted to close our books and they needed to pay the outstanding bill,” Clark said.

Clark said this is not unlike another tax equity dispute from several years ago involving cost allocations for Joint Services.

“The City and the County – on a handshake – agreed to undergo a financial analysis and abide by the results. Those results were not financially to the County’s advantage, but we honored that – on a handshake. No one had to file a lawsuit or drag out a court case,” Clark said.

Clark is urging the Mayor to push forward with the settlement and let the Common Council, in public, vote it up or down.

“The Mayor did his work. He showed leadership by working to bring this issue to a resolution. If the Common Council chooses not to settle this, it will be up to them to justify the court costs, the waste of time and their lack of leadership to the city of Kenosha taxpayers,” Clark said.

 
 

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