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County board rejects District Health budget

By Staff | Sep 9, 2016

At its regular meeting Tuesday morning, Pierce County’s Board of County Commissioners, acting as members of the Lake Region District Health Unit board, voted to reject the proposed health unit budget.

The board reasoned that the county health nurse looking to go part-time as well as “too fast” increases as a result of a salary study were reason to vote no.

County Board Chairman Dave Migler said that the county’s public health nurse felt her position isn’t a full-time position, as there are times with nothing to do.

District 2 Commissioner Mike Christenson questioned whether another full time nurse could be hired or if the current person could advertise more services. District 4 Commissioner Duane Johnston said it is not the nurse’s job to advertise.

Migler questioned why hire a full-time person for a position that isn’t full-time.

“I’m not saying I want one,” Christenson said, “I want to find out the facts.”

Migler said the district health unit increased its requested amount from last year, calling it a “bold move” when other government agencies are cutting.

In a conference call with the district health unit board, the county board said the public health nurse wanted to go part-time and they wanted to see what impact that would have.

Lake Region District Health Unit Administrator Allen McKay said the meeting was not the right meeting to discuss it and that any cuts Pierce County wanted would make a “minor impact.”

Christenson questioned how the county would set its budget. McKay responded that counties pay for all programs the health unit provides, not just nurses.

McKay also said that if Pierce County’s part of the budget were to be cut, parts of the other counties in the health unit’s budget would have to be cut as well.

“The budget is not just Pierce County,” McKay said.

Other actions

– The board received correspondence from the N.D. Department of Transportation regarding a plan to line a culvert near Bergen; and from Enbridge regarding the withdrawal of the Sandpiper Pipeline project.

– The board appointed Lance Alexander and Commissioner Rick Larson to the county park board.

The board approved a transfer of $100,000 from the Highway Distribution fund to the Road & Bridge fund.

– The board approved an abatement request from Kimberly Kuntz.

– The board approved a call for bids on fuel oil, propane and gas.

– The board approved appraisals on delinquent properties.

– Heart of America Correctional & Treatment Center Administrator Mike Graner informed the board of an $18,424 profit in July, and the August inmate population was 120. Graner also discussed options he wanted the board to consider for the 2017 budget, including the county paying an additional 1 percent of retirement with employees contributing 3 percent.

– Sheriff Josh Siegler met with the board to discuss budget requests and informed the board that there were 49 calls in the month of August.

– The board met with Jessica Tagestad, of Wold Engineering, to discuss updates on the Rugby golf course road and that the Selz overlay project would be starting.

– The board discussed 2017 departmental budgets.

– The board approved the August meeting minutes, bills, financial statements and treasurer’s checks.

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