WINFIELD, W.Va. – A member of the Putnam County Board of Health said Friday he plans to propose the board layoff the entire 13.5-member staff at the Putnam County Health Department in response to a growing financial debt.
Board member Joe Haynes, who is also a member of the Putnam County Commission, was going to make his proposal at an emergency board meeting Friday afternoon but there weren’t enough members at the meeting for a quorum. Haynes said he’ll make the motion at the next meeting.
The second part of Haynes’ plan is to contract with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to provide services in Putnam County until the financial issues are righted.
The health department has a debt of $200,000 and it’s growing. Haynes said they are in dire straits.
“We’re going backwards as we discover more debt,” Haynes told MetroNews Friday evening. “With the amount of money coming in with the amount of money going out with normal expenses and you add to that the 200-thousand dollar debt, we’re losing ground.”
Haynes said it’s important to point out his plan would not be a merger with Kanawha-Charleston, but only a contractual agreement for perhaps six months. He said that way there would be no loss of services.
Any personnel moves would have to be approved by the state.
“There’s a possibility that some of these people laid off may be hired by Kanawha-Charleston because they’ll obviously need more employees to cover Putnam County. That’s always a possibility,” Haynes said.
There’s the chance the Putnam County Health Department would not make payroll in July if the staff levels stay the same according to Haynes.
Haynes said while the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is providing services in Putnam County, the Putnam Board of Health would work on ways to reduce the debt.
“Once we have our financial house in order we will certainly go back to hiring our own people here and go back to the way things were,” Haynes said.
The health department got into financial trouble by spending thousands of dollars fighting an employee grievance case that it lost. It recently hired a top administrator at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Lolita Kirk, as a senior interim administrator.
There are currently 13 full-time and one part-time worker at the Putnam County Health Department.