City, County Still At Odds Over Health Department

Saline County Commissioners Tuesday discussed the status of the Salina / Saline County Health Department. The county has been at odds with the City of Salina over the future of the organization.

A structure problem with the roof caused the agency 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.

The county would like to fix the damaged roof of the current facility, while the city would like to tear down the building and build a new facility.

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 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.

The city also has given the county notice that at the end of this year they have elected to terminate the joint agreement between the two organizations, meaning that the county would solely be responsible for the health department. Currently, Saline County is one of only five health department in Kansas that shares services with the city and county.

If the joint-agreement ends, more than likely the health department will have to cut back on the services it offers. That fear has prompted numerous citizens to attend meetings from both bodies since, urging them to work together to solve the problem.
Multiple people spoke at the county commission meeting Tuesday morning, urging county commissioners to work with city commissioners to resolve the issue.

Commissioners Randy Duncan and John Price affirmed that the city’s action last week to terminate the current agreement at the end of the year means that the health department will become a county entity if no agreement is reached. The city has indicated that they would like to negotiate a new agreement, while the county seems reluctant to do so.