CenterPoint executive director gets bonus, 4 percent raise [Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.]
(Winston-Salem Journal (NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 06--Betty Taylor, executive director of CenterPoint Human Services, was presented Thursday with a 4 percent raise in salary and a special $12,000 bonus by the agency's board of directors.
The bonus and 4 percent salary increase to $156,000 were awarded during a specially called board meeting that also involved a presentation by Taylor on the potential for more consolidation among the state's 10 managed care organizations that is likely to affect CenterPoint.
The board also converted Taylor's contract to an "evergreen" status, meaning there is no set ending, chairman Ron Norwood said Friday. Taylor could not be reached for comment Friday. Spokeswoman Penny Casto said more details of Taylor's new contract would not be available until next week.
CenterPoint oversees mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services in Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham and Stokes counties. Its budget for fiscal 2013-14 is $160.4 million, including $128.3 million in Medicaid funding, state funding of $21.7 million and local funding of $8.2 million.
The bonus and salary increase came nine weeks after Taylor said at the agency's 2013-14 budget meeting that it was not providing salary increases to any of its 189 full-time and 19 part-time employees in fiscal 2013-14. "There is no change in individual compensation," Taylor said on June 27.
The agency said at the budget meeting that $145,000 had been kept in the current budget for merit increases. Kevin Beauchamp, chief financial officer, said the agency's finance committee won't determine whether to provide those funds until November.
Norwood said the bonus and salary increase "are reflections on her work over the past two years moving into waiver and the doubling of staff" as part of becoming an MCO. He said board members attending the meeting voting unanimous in favor of the bonus and pay increase.
CenterPoint converted to an MCO in February -- a hard three-year implementation push that strained the agency like never before. The overall transition is expected to continue well into 2014.
"In 2012, she refused all attempts to offer her a raise or a bonus for the work she was doing," Norwood said.
"Based on the changes in the behavioral health system alone and the increased Medicaid budget, we felt an increase was due as well. Her salary is well within the state's pay grade for her position," which he said is $130,000 to $180,000.
Taylor has served as a focal point for advocate criticism for several years for what they call a lack of transparency in CenterPoint's operations.
CenterPoint and Taylor have been criticized for being top-heavy in administration and staffing, including providing salary raises for merit and educational achievements in a time of tight budgets. They also have been accused of mismanaging the agency's resources and creating an antagonistic relationship with some providers.
Advocates have accused Taylor in the past of creating a "rubber-stamp" board filled with members who are either reluctant or lack the interest to ask her tough questions about the agency's performance. Only the board and DHHS secretary have the ability to replace an MCO chief executive. A new board was created in January -- with 11 of 16 members being new -- as part of its MCO transition that was completed in February.
Last fall, Taylor drew pushback from several Forsyth County commissioners, with Gloria Whisenhunt calling for Taylor's job after Taylor accused the county board of taking too much time to approve a county loan to help the agency become an MCO.
Commissioners approved providing CenterPoint with a one-time $800,640 loan to help the agency with its MCO transition costs. The other counties provided a combined $465,000.
Local advocate Laurie Coker said she is not surprised that the board gave Taylor the evergreen contract, bonus and salary increase, although she said the timing is curious given the likelihood of MCO consolidation affecting Taylor's role by 2015.
"I am surprised the board made this decision given so much system change going on and the uncertainty surrounding the future of CenterPoint and all the MCOs," said Coker, director of the N.C. Consumer Advocacy, Networking and Support Organization.
"It's probably not good policy to make anyone's contract evergreen in this state health care environment."
(c)2013 Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.)
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