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State wants more information from Putnam health board on emergency funding request

SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. -- The state wants more information from the Putnam County Board of Health before it would consider the board's application for emergency funding.

Joel McKinney, the administrator for the Putnam health department, told board members Tuesday night he had received a letter from the state earlier in the day.

The health department has applied for about $186,000 from a local board of health emergency fund through the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

An emergency fund review committee, made up of representatives from local health departments and officials from the Bureau for Public Health, considers emergency funding applications, according to a spokeswoman with the DHHR.

For fiscal year 2013, the state Division of Local Health had $332,850 -- or 2 percent of its state funds -- set aside as emergency funds, according to its funding distribution statement.

McKinney, who took over as administrator at the end of February, told commissioners about the financial problems, which he says are mainly because of legal fees stemming from wrongful-termination grievances. The board has spent more than $100,000 paying attorney Karen Miller to defend them in two grievances filed with the Public Employees Grievance Board by former employee Barbara Koblinsky. In both cases, the board has been ordered to reinstate Koblinsky, a former health sanitarian, and pay her back pay.

The board has appealed the latest decision, which is pending before Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom. About $30,000 is still owed to Miller.

Board members spent more than an hour in executive session Tuesday night discussing "personnel issues."

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

The debts include: $80,800 in rent to Gary Young, president of G&G Builders; about $36,500 for vaccine costs; $18,000 to the IRS; $8,570 in state taxes; and $4,514 to the state Office of Technology.

The first part of the department's audit, which dealt with purchasing card expenditures, was finished on Tuesday, McKinney told board members. The department is undergoing an audit by the state that board members requested.

The auditor recommended the health department purchase a drop box safe so that money deposits can be deposited daily.

"Only I would have the key," McKinney told board members, who agreed to purchase one.

McKinney also said that a payment plan has been set up with the IRS. The department will pay $700 a month, he said.

Also at the meeting, Putnam Commissioner Joe Haynes, who sits on the health board, addressed concerns about a recent TV station's report that the health department hadn't inspected restaurants in two years.

"It's absolutely not true," Haynes said.

McKinney, who took the job as administrator after serving as sanitarian, where his main job was handling restaurant inspections -- said he's still helping to conduct inspections.

"Maybe since I [became administrator] they're a month or two behind," he said.

However, McKinney told board members that another health sanitarian has been hired and will start work after the person is approved by the state and receives training.

"We're doing the best we can with what we have," he said. 

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

 


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