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Putnam asks W.Va. to help fund Health Department

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County commissioners wrote a letter Tuesday supporting the county Health Department's request for emergency funding from the state.

Joel McKinney, who took over as administrator of the Health Department around the end of February, has applied for about $186,000 from the local board of health emergency fund through the state Department of Health and Human Resources, according to the letter.

"The Putnam County Health Department has discovered through a recent change in management, a number [of] obligations which have not been paid," the letter states.

In the letter to the state, Putnam commissioners detail the money the Health Department owes -- including $80,800 in rent to Gary Young, president of G&G Builders. Also, the department owes about $36,500 for vaccine costs; $38,000 in attorneys' fees; $18,000 to the IRS; $8,570 in state taxes; and $4,514 to the state Office of Technology.

McKinney told commissioners last month that because of legal fees stemming from a wrongful-termination lawsuit, the department was having financial problems.

Last month, commissioners agreed to loan the department $30,000, as the agency struggles to pay its bills.

Marsha Dadisman, spokeswoman for the DHHR, said in a written statement that an emergency fund review committee made up of representatives from local health departments and officials from the Bureau for Public Health would consider the application.

"The committee reviews and evaluates applications for funds and makes a recommendation to the commissioner -- which can be accepted, modified or rejected," Dadisman said.

County Commissioner Joe Haynes, who serves on the county health board, has also cited the cost of the department's 2011 move to a larger building, the Teays Valley Corporate Center, and county residents not using the department's services. Commissioner Andy Skidmore will replace Haynes on the board in June.

McKinney, who had been a sanitarian at the department, took over for Jackie Fleshman, who had served as the administrator at the Health Department since 2008. She now works as an educator for the nonprofit group Mission West Virginia, according to its website.

A $57,000 tax lien filed in July last year was lifted in November, according to documents on file in the Putnam County clerk's office.

Earlier this month, commissioners decided to begin asking county agencies funded by the commission -- the Health Department, Parks and Recreation, the library and community corrections -- to turn in quarterly budgets. Also, the departments will have to present another budget report six months after the annual budget meeting in March.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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