The Yadkin County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to consolidate the county’s Board of Health and Social Services Board as well as assume authority over the boards.
This decision comes after a legislative change signed by former Gov. Bev Perdue in June 2012. House Bill 438 allows county commissioners across the state the opportunity to have more control and oversight over the department of health and social services while also consolidating them into one human services department with a single director for both departments.
The board held a public hearing on the topic at their Feb. 18 meeting and Yadkin County residents offered up their opinions of the resolution to the commissioners.
Gayle Brandon, of Hamptonville, share that she was a former health director for the county and that she could find little evidence of cost savings that the county would reap from the consolidation.
“I have to go on record to say that I do not support your resolution and I hope that you take the opportunity to study it more before you make a decision,” Brandon said.
Hamptonville resident Patty Steelman said that she felt that a vote for this change would be a play for control by the commissioners.
“I think [control] sums up the main purpose of this decision,” Steelman said. “You talk about transparency; I think a person would have to be blind to not see that this is all about control. If something isn’t broken should we fix it just to give you control.”
Dr. Alex Snyder gave his opinion as a medical professional in the county and a member of the board of health. He expressed concern that if the directors and heads of the departments were not medical professionals then the county would have trouble with recruiting professionals to work there.
“The people in social services do not have the same background or knowledge that the people in the health department do,” Dr. Snyder said. “You’re going to have trouble recruiting MD personnel and nursing personnel to a department that’s run by non-medical heads. They will go to other counties.”
Following the public hearing the board closed public comments and County Manager Aaron Church shared that this type of system has been in place in Wake and Mecklenberg Counties for approximately 15 years and that it has been successful for those counties.
“We have had countless hours of discussion with board members; we had an open session with both employees of DSS and the health department; we had anonymous surveys,” Church said. “There were concerns and we addressed those with employees.”
Church reported that the county expects an immediate savings of $65,000 if the commissioners chose to adopt the resolution as well as $125,000 in capital savings for a total of nearly $200,000 a year.
“We’ve been working on this over the last six months,” Church said. “We have studied and studied and there is nothing that will be passed tonight that hasn’t been passed and implemented successfully in other counties.
“I’d say in 10 years this will be your model in North Carolina because it just makes sense,” Church continued. “It’s been a lot of hard work to get something that is solid and sound to benefit the citizens.”
Chairman Kevin Austin pointed out that the $200,000 savings would not result in an employee losing their job. Austin said that the health director position is currently filled by an interim director due to the resignation of the previous director several months ago.
“We do not have a health director at this time and we felt that this makes this an opportune time to make this change,” Chairman Austin said. “I don’t expect drastic changes when the sun comes up tomorrow. The advisory board is almost identical to the way it was previously seated.”
Following Austin and Church’s comments the board voted 5-0 in favor of consolidating the departments and assuming control of the boards.
Other topics from the meeting:
-The board voted 5-0 in favor of approving a draft of the survey map for the 5-D park. This map shows where the conservation buffers will be located in the park.
-The board held a public hearing to close out the 2009 scattered site CDBG project which allowed for the repairs and rehabilitation of homes of the underprivileged in Yadkin County.
-The board announced that Cooperative Extension will hold its annual report to the people at the Yadkin Senior Center in Yadkinville on March 18 from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m.
-The board appointed Libby Snow to the juvenile crime prevention council.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.