County Mulling Health Department

Saline County Commissioners are considering the City of Salina’s latest offer in regard to the Salina-Saline County Health Department.

After hearing an update Tuesday morning from County Human Relations Director Marilyn Leamer and County Administrator Rita Deister, commissioners met in executive session with County Counselor Mike Montoya.

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.

Leamer updated commissioners on the progression of transferring the health department into a county agency. She discussed differences in health insurance plans. She did not say how much extra month it will cost the county in health insurance. She did say that the plan is much different than the city plan, which currently covers health department employees. For the family plan, employees will pay nearly $300 a month more than the currently plan. She also said that some of the benefits are better, citing the prescription plan.

Montoya discussed the city’s latest proposal for the health department, which is the same proposal that the county rejected last week. County commissioners accepted several things that the city offered including the city paying $500,000 to fix the roof of the current building. They also agreed to allow $500,000 of health department reserve funds to be used to remodel the building. But in their counter-proposal the health department would become a county department, with the city helping to fund it. Employees would fall under the county umbrella. County Commissioners Randy Duncan and Jim Gile voted in favor of the counter-proposal. Commissioner John Price voted against it.

Prior to the executive session, County Commission Chairman Randy Duncan affirmed his desire for the health department to become a county department, saying that he would not change his mind.

Following the executive session commissioners did not make a decision. They have meetings scheduled all afternoon and could still discuss the topic.