County health trims request for an advance

The Washington County Health Department asked for an advance of $50,000 from Washington County Commissioners Thursday but said the department is in much better fiscal shape than the last time such a request was made.

Court Witschey, health department administrator, said he made the request to sustain department operations. The money is set to be paid back to the county general fund after the department receives allocations in April.

“We’ve made quite a turnaround in progress,” Witschey said of making the department more efficient. “It’s not where we want to be, but we’re making progress.”

Witschey said the advance asked for last year was very early in the year and was for $80,000 to $90,000.

The health department had been struggling financially since 2012, when the health board opted not to renew former health commissioner Kathleen Meckstroth’s $65,508 contract. In January 2013 the health board did not have enough funding to make the first payroll of the year and had to borrow that money in the form of an advance from the Washington County Commissioners.

Witschey said one way the department is being made more efficient is with electronic billing and vaccination record software in the nursing department. There has also been the implementation of Medicaid Administrative Claiming, reduction of administrative salaries by $17,000, the start of a new internal budgeting process and policies regarding sick days and vacation have been revised to reduce payouts.

“We’ve made steps in the last year to put us on better ground,” he said.

Commissioner David White said the improvements to the health department are impressive.

In other business, Thursday, the commissioners met with Michelle Hyer, development specialist III for Buckeye Hills, to open bids on a Beverly Community Development Block Grant project.

Hyer said the project is for the water treatment facilities-one at the waterworks building and the other at the booster station building.

“It’s for the purchase of two generators and the installation of (them),” she said.

The two bids were from Stanley Electric, of Vienna, W.Va. for $59,514.96, and RW Miller Plumbing and Electric for $62,107.

Hyer said the initial estimate was for $45,892, making the bids more than 10 percent higher.

Beverly Mayor Rex Kenyon said the price of generators is a factor in the cost.

“The cost of a generator has gone up significantly in the last year,” he said.

Hyer said there is only one option when both quotes come in that high.

“We’ll have to go back out and requote it,” she said.

Initial quote requests were sent out to nine businesses. Hyer said the hope is to send quotes out to more than the initial nine area agencies.

She said the process could be ongoing through the middle of March, at the earliest. She added that if after the requote the quotes are still 10 percent higher, the Village of Beverly could be approached about covering the additional cost of the project.