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AUDIO: County Rejects Offer Of Joint Health Department

KSAL StaffAugust 6, 2013

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.

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.

County Counselor Mike Montoya told commissioners that the only way to become a joint health department would be through a new agreement.

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.

Effective January 1st it will be a county health department.

County commissioners Tuesday also discussed a settlement from the city in regard to repair of the current building, but did not reach any decisions.

Commissioner John 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.

Price said that if you take into consideration an increase last year for the department, it is really now over a 4 mil increase.

Earlier in the day County Human Relations Director Marilyn 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. Several numbers have been discussed, and while there is not known how much extra a year it will cost, all of the estimates are over $100,000. For the family plan, health department employees will pay nearly $300 a month more than the currently plan.

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.”

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

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.

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