Joe P. Asher
The Harlan County Board of Health is considering ending it’s association with the Cumberland Valley Health District. During a meeting on Monday, Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop cited possible mismanagement of retirement funds as a reason for concern.
“There was no payment made in July to the retirement system,” said Grieshop. “There was no payment made in August to the retirement system. But there was almost $1,000,000 in the bank account in July.”
According to Grieshop, he received this information via an open records request.
“In 2012, the district paid less than $100,000 to the retirement board,” said Grieshop. “That means that the district kept the individuals deduction from their checks — their own personal money — used it or put it in the bank and let it sit, and did not put it where it needed to go. That is not appropriate.”
Cumberland Valley Health Department Interim Director Lynette Renner stated there were payments made.
“We absolutely paid July and August,” said Renner.
“Show me the evidence,” replied Grieshop. “No check went, and you only paid out less than $100,000 in 2012.”
Renner told the board she would produce documentation showing the payments had been made.
Renner advised the board that payments were owed on retirement only for the months of November and December.
Grieshop said payments were made on time up until July 1, but he could only find three payments having been made since then.
Board Treasurer Leo Miller pointed out that making the past due payments does not guarantee that future payments will be made on time, with some of the money going to pay penalty costs.
Renner confirmed there is a penalty that must be paid for being late on retirement payments.
Grieshop then mentioned the recent reductions in staff at the Harlan Health Department.
“I do not appreciate supporting Rockcastle and Jackson counties on the back of Harlan County,” said Grieshop. “You’re putting everything on the back of Harlan County. We have 10 fewer workers and we still have completed more units of work, three times Rockcastle, in some aspects three times Jackson County…we are being managed from afar. We are way down here in Harlan County and an hour and 15 minutes up the road is where our management comes from. We’re getting no respect. There is no value with us continuing a relationship with the Cumberland Valley Health District. It does not serve any purpose.”
Renner said there were no layoffs in Rockcastle or Jackson counties, and two in Clay County.
“We lose five to layoffs and you bring one back, we lose four to retirement and you say that Harlan is doing their share? We’re doing it all,” said Grieshop.
According to Renner, the layoff decisions were based on population and other regulations.
Grieshop stated he plans to encourage the board to pull out of the Cumberland Valley Health District at the next regular board meeting on Feb.21.
Speaking after the meeting, Renner said she was disappointed Harlan is considering cutting ties with Cumberland Valley Health District.
“We are having trouble with finances because of identified issues,” said Renner. “I just think you have good times and bad. In the 25 years I’ve worked here we’ve had ebbs and flows in funding, and this is one of those ebbs. When you have adversity, everything goes better if everybody works together…I think it’s all issues we can work through.”
The board approved a motion to pay the tax appropriations for the upcoming quarter only and adjourned.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org