WARREN — Trumbull County’s insurance provider, County Risk Sharing Authority, also known as CORSA, last week gave Human Resources Director Alexandra DeVengencie-Bush a second warning that the county is being closely monitored and could lose its insurance if the number of lawsuits being filed against it does not decline.
DeVengencie-Bush described a recent meeting with CORSA President Cory Noonan of Allen County and CORSA’s vice president Dave Wilson of Guernsey County at which she was told the county’s annual premium likely will increase from $721,000 to nearly $1 million in 2024.
The exact amount of premium increase will not be known until sometime in March.
In addition to the annual premium increase, DeVengencie-Bush also noted the amount the county will have to pay for representation on each individual lawsuit for which CORSA represents the county likely will be greater than the $25,000 it now pays.
CORSA provides the county liability insurance, as well as property insurance. It is a risk sharing organization provided by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. It provides insurance for 72 of Ohio’s 88 counties, as well as some other non-county agencies.
Since January 2021, the county has paid an increasing annual premium cost. In 2021,the county paid $552,269 in premiums; in 2022, it paid $593,125; and, so far in 2023, it has paid $721,681.
CORSA’s renewal costs increased from $593,125 in the 2022-23 fiscal year to $721,000 in the 2023-24 fiscal year, representing an 18.75 percent increase.
It warned the county last spring that Trumbull is being watched because of the number of lawsuits that were filed against it by former and current employees.
According to records provided by the county’s Human Resources and Auditor offices, the county so far in 2023 paid CORSA $179,769.09 in connection with nine lawsuits involving current and former employees. Several of them were dismissed by the court, two were dropped, two were settled by CORSA and there are two ongoing lawsuits.
The two lawsuits that were settled by CORSA have cost the county $110,000.
“Our performance is not good,” DeVengencie-Bush told Commissioner Denny Malloy during the commissioners weekly workshop. “We are part of a county risk-sharing pool. They do not want to leave us high and dry, so they’re giving us another year.”
“They wanted to do this formally,” DeVengencie-Bush continued. “We will be in trouble if we don’t right this ship.”
Because of the cost-sharing nature of the insurance, DeVengencie-Bush said the cost of numerous lawsuits is affecting how much all the counties are paying for insurance.
DeVengencie-Bush noted she is telling the board about the possible increase now, because the county needs to consider this when preparing the 2024 county budget.
Malloy, the only commissioner who attended Tuesday’s public workshop, questioned how these proposed increases would affect the current lawsuits filed against the county. DeVengencie-Bush suggested the deductibles already have been applied.
However, she warned, CORSA would likely have to pay additional amounts if there are settlements in any of the lawsuits.
CORSA has arranged for a meeting of all county department heads and the commissioners from 2 to 4 p.m., Friday, at which there will be discussions about working together.
While insisting the workshop is not being done specifically for Trumbull, DeVengencie-Bush added that its presenters are well aware of what has been happening here and, in several instances, represented Trumbull County in the local lawsuits.
“Every commissioner needs to attend Friday’s meeting,” she said. “We can’t afford more lawsuits. We have a problem. They watch every meeting and read every news article.”
Malloy questioned if the courts could compel all three commissioners to attend Friday’s meeting.
“No,” DeVengencie-Bush responded.