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Riviera Beach mistakenly spent more than $1 million on health insurance for former employees

Posted at 1:02 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 17:31:54-05

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Rivera Beach Council voted unanimously to suspend the city’s human resource risk manager Marie Sullen for 15 days without pay for her role in the insurance mismanagement which resulted in $1 million in overpayment.

Mayor Thomas Masters brought the item to council during Wednesday’s council meeting.

"I felt that she was responsible and she should be held accountable and disciplined for the neglect and the mismanagement of the insurance benefits," Masters said.

The city spent $1,101,556 on health insurance for people who were no longer employed with the city.

RELATED: Riviera Beach audit for City Council Members' spending | Detailed list of Council Members' expenses

According to a memo sent by Finance Director Randy Sherman, 77 former employees continued to receive benefits.

The billing oversight started in 2013 and ended in June 2017 after an audit revealed the mistake.

Sherman said the city’s insurance company Aetna had returned $456,000 of that money to the city, leaving the remaining damage to the city at over $645,000.

"I don’t foresee being able to get that whole one million dollars back, because it was the city’s fault," City Councilwoman KaShamba Miller Anderson told Contact 5 in July.

The Mayor said more people might have been responsible for the oversight and he is waiting for the report from the Inspector General’s Office before taking further action.

As part of his reasoning for suspending Sullen, he showed a video of her from July in which she explained to council that the workload had been high and staff had to deal with hurricanes and other events.

"The risk manager gave a lot of different things that was going on, whether that’s called justification, or rationalization," Masters said on Wednesday. "Her responsibility and duty should not have been impacted."