City Schedules Special Wednesday Meeting

A day after the county rejected an offer of a joint city-county health department Salina City Commissioners call a special meeting.

Saline County Commissioners reaffirmed late Tuesday afternoon that they do not want to enter into a new interlocal agreement with the City of Salina in regard to the operation of the Salina-Saline County Health Department.

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.

Since that time both sides have sent several proposals. Each city proposal has called for a jointly operated health department, while the county has steadfastly maintained that the agency is will become a county department and have been preparing for the change.

Unless a new agreement is reached, which seems unlikely, the health department will become a county department January 1st.

While discussing a proposal from the city Tuesday afternoon, county commissioner John Price made a motion to have the city draft a proposed agreement to jointly operate the health department. The motion died for a lack of a second.

Price said “this health department is going to cost the taxpayers, it doesn’t sound like a good choice.”

Earlier in the day Saline County Administrator Rita Deister told commissioners that a tax increase of over 3 mils would be needed to fund the county budget for 2014. Over 2 mils of the increase is attributed to the health department becoming a county agency, and retaining all of the current services.

City commissioners had reiterated Monday evening that they would like joint funding and operation of the health department.

On Tuesday County Commission Chairman Randy Duncan 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.”

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.

The special Salina City Commission meeting to discuss the issue begins at 3:00 Wednesday afternoon.