The budgeting folks in Lake Geneva City Hall are not crooked, but they appear to be more than a little “bent.”
The City of Lake Geneva’s response to the healthcare costs is just one more deceptive juggling of numbers that hid and deceived the city council, residents and city employees. To those who can read statistical data, the data gives a clear picture. If one looks very carefully, like an expert carefully examining an alleged photograph of a mermaid, one can see how it was altered to create the deception. Once found it can be pointed out and easily seen by others.
The six month rolling health cost chart presented at the Meeting of the Whole, by city employees, came from the city’s comptroller; however, the chart was an example of juggled data that gave misleading information to the city council. First, it was not a six month rolling average of healthcare costs as claimed, but rather a six month rolling average of when the costs were paid, not when they occurred! That detail badly distorted the graph because two months were not paid when they occurred, but were paid in later months. The fact that there were two months in which no healthcare payments were made was mentioned by the city comptroller at the last city council meeting. This artificially lowered the first few points (months) on the graph. Later when those unpaid months were paid, it artificially inflated the middle points of the graph, while leaving the end points of the chart approximately correct. As shown, healthcare costs at the end of the chart were almost equal to the healthcare costs at the beginning of the chart. That implied that city employees were just getting healthcare costs down to the cost at the beginning of the year as pointed out by an alderman, but in fact city employees had actually lowered the six month rolling average healthcare cost to 30% below a year ago (a huge accomplishment). The explanation is that the first 6 month rolling average point on the graph had two months with zero’s (not paid), so although listed as a six month rolling average the first point was effectively only a four-month total, divided by six, so it was about 33% lower than it should have been; whereas, the end of the chart was a six-month total divided by six.
It’s not at all reassuring to look through the numbers and uncover the city’s juggling of accounts and misrepresentation of data. Why is this being done? One can only guess, but delaying these payments moved expenses from one year to the next, thus enabling the following year’s funds to pay last year’s expenses. It also artificially made healthcare costs look like they were going out of control. That misrepresentation caused the city council to feel it could justify the transfer of some of the healthcare costs onto the city employees to reduce the city’s increase in costs, when in truth there wasn’t an increase at all!
This was a dual misrepresentation as it was an injustice to city employees because it hid the actual 30% reduction in true healthcare costs that city employees had achieved over the previous year, and hid it from the employees themselves; the city council; and most importantly the voters and residents. This should be a criminal act and it almost went by totally unnoticed, because the deception was created by a “when payments were made” shell game. Most people believe what their officials tell them and when this subtle deceptive crap goes unnoticed then illegitimate apriori decisions can become the basis for taking action where innocent people are deceived and hurt. In summary, the city comptroller gave the city employees a graph of manipulated data that appeared to support the employees, but actually undermined them.
Because the graph hid the fact that city employees had actually lowered their healthcare six month rolling average cost to 30% below a year ago; instead the data showed it as only equal to a year ago, and in such a convoluted fashion that anyone looking at it would not know. The Lake Geneva City Council, the city employees, and the residents were all misled by a deceptive misrepresentation of facts by the deceptively simple shifting of when the city paid the healthcare costs. Who is responsible for this misrepresentation? And what action is going to be taken both against the responsible parties, and to prevent a recurrence?