A day after the county expressed little interest in seeing a written proposal for a joint city-county health department, Salina City Commissioners met in a special meeting Wednesday afternoon and agreed to draft one.
City commissioners voted to draft specific language of a plan for an interlocal agreement with the county to jointly operate the health department. Along with the written interlocal agreement proposal, the city also is extending the same offer they have extended for the last two weeks. The proposal includes among other things:
1. $500,000 city funding for the building
2. $500,000 in health department reserve funds to be used for renovation only
About a month ago the city gave the county notice that they decided 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. City commissioners have indicated that they would like to negotiate a new agreement.
During a county meeting on Tuesday, county commissioners had indicated that they have not received a written plan of the how a new interlocal agreement would work. County Commissioner John Price made a motion to request that the city draft a proposed interlocal agreement. The motion died from lack of a second. Neither commission chairman Randy Duncan nor commissioner Jim Gile supported it.
In the meeting on Tuesday Duncan made it clear that he supports the health department becoming a county agency. He said that “the city should realize that since it is a county health department, they don’t have to help fund it. But that’s their call.”
Commissioner Jim Gile has seemed more open about considering a new interlocal agreement, but to this point has not expressed strong interest in pursuing one.
Price, who supports a joint city-county health department, was at the city meeting Wednesday. He told KSAL News afterwards that he thinks that there is still a chance that Gile will change his mind, and that an agreement can be reached.
Price said it makes better economic sense for a joint city-county health department. He said that of it does become a county department, which it will become on January 1st unless a new agreement is reached, the county will have to raise taxes a little over 2 mils to keep it fully funded. And he says when you take into consideration a 1 mil increase last year for it, that’s over a 3 mil increase within about a year.
Price says he is also concerned about the health department employees. Unless things change, and a new agreement is reached, their family health insurance will go up by about $300 a month. He says they will also lose vacation time as well when they start over as new county employees.
Price said that though he is not overly optimistic, he is still holding out hope that a new interlocal agreement will be reached. Price compared it to a line in the movie “Dumb and Dumber”. When a main character is told the chances of the girl of his dreams dating him were one in a million the reply was “so there’s a chance”.
County commissioners do not formally meet again until next week.
A structure problem with the roof caused the health department to close back in May of 2012. Since that time, city and county commissioners have been trying to come up with a plan for a permanent facility and the best course of action for the future of the agency.