According to Skidmore, the results of state audits will likely not be available for at least another month, and the time constraint they were working under made the contract with Kanawha-Charleston the board's best option.
Young, who is president of G&G Builders and owner of the Teays Valley Corporate Center, disagreed.
"People in this county deserve to have a first-class facility that is located in a spot where it is easily accessible," Young said. "We have an image here that, in my opinion, is second-to-none when it comes to other counties in the state of West Virginia."
Young is one of the department's biggest creditors, but believes the Board of Health could have spent more time exploring other options before deciding to contract with Kanawha-Charleston.
"It's hard to understand, when we can spend millions for an animal shelter, and millions for parks, and we can't come up with $200,000 in the county to bail our health department out," he said.
According to state law, funds given to county health departments for operating expenses cannot be used to pay existing debts. Health board members hope to use county funds to pay a portion of their debt over the next six months, but the yearly stipend the County Commission gives the health department is only $150,000.
"After reviewing it, we can't put a Band-Aid on it -- sublet, cut in half," Escue said. "We have to have a fix, in my opinion, to be able to provide clinical services, to make sure restaurants are sanitary, to provide immunization. We have to have that somehow."
As part of the contract, payments received by Kanawha-Charleston for the services it provides will remain the property of Kanawha-Charleston. If the Putnam board chooses to end the contract in December, any payment made that covers a period beyond that will be transferred back to the Putnam health department.
Kanawha-Charleston has one sanitarian working out of the Putnam County Courthouse, and is in the process of hiring full-time employees to work in Putnam.
According to Skidmore, the hiring process has been slowed in part because the contract had not been signed, and although it's unlikely the health department will soon need as many employees as the 12 who were recently laid off, the board is confident there will not be a disruption in services.
"I have no question that Kanawha-Charleston will provide the services in an exemplary fashion," Lockhart said. "I don't think it's a numbers game. I don't think you look at the number of employees, I think you look at what the employees you have produce."
The contract still needs approval from the Kanawha-Charleston health board before it is finalized. The next regular meeting of the Putnam County health board will be 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at the courthouse in Winfield.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.