“Rational Process” Urged To Solve Issue
KSAL Staff - July 12, 2013 1:47 pm
The Salina-Saline County Health Department board held a special meeting early Friday afternoon to discuss the future of the agency. The board approved a letter, which will be read at both Salina City and Saline County Commission meetings next week.
The letter asks both commissions to work together, and to negotiate a new inter-local agreement. It also asks that a committee be formed to begin a “rational process” to identify an appropriate and optimal location for the Salina-Saline County Health Department.
A structure problem with the roof caused the health department to close over a year ago, on May 31, 2012. Since that time, city and county commissioners have been trying to come up with a plan for a permanent facility.
Earlier this week Saline County Commissioners proposed taking full responsibility for the health department.
Saline County sent a letter to the City of Salina late Tuesday afternoon, outlining its plan. The county is asking the city to pay $500,000 toward the repair of the current building. Effective January 1st, the health department will become solely a county agency.
Last week, the city proposed a plan in which both the city and county would contribute $500,000 to the project, the health department would contribute $850,000, and the rest would be funded through bonds. The health department would pay $150,000 rent a year to pay for the bonds.
The city also gave the county notice that they have elected to terminate the joint agreement between the two organizations at the end of this year, meaning that the county would solely be responsible for the health department. Commissioners had indicated that they would like to negotiate a new agreement.
The county rejected the offer, saying they would like to proceed with fixing the current facility. Since then they have been proceeding with making plans to repair the current facility.
In the letter Tuesday, the county said that it will be necessary to increase the mill levy to fund the health department. It also assumes that the city will lower its mill levy because it will no longer be funding the health department.
At the meeting on Friday, several concerns were expressed. If the health department becomes county only, will all staff be retained? Health insurance concerns were also expressed. The county health plan would be much more expensive for employees, and also cost taxpayers more money. One board member said that it would cost an estimated $260,000 a year more.
Dr. Trent Davis said that the hope is for both commissions to “begin with a clean slate” and work to resolve the issue.
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Text of letter: