Board of Health to examine associate contract before hiring new health officer
WEST BRANCH — Despite interviewing three candidates for the District Health Department No. 2 health officer position, the board of health decided Aug. 21 to explore a possible contract with another health department for health officer services.
A motion during the meeting to contact District Health Department No. 4 about an associate contract for health officer services was approved by the Board of Health 5-3. Bev Scott, John West and Roberta Roulo voted no.
“I would think we should’ve done that a long time ago,” Scott said. “We advertised (for candidates), now we’re talking about going backwards.”
Oscoda County Commissioner Michael Hunt said that he would like to know how DHD 4 feels about possibly sharing a health officer before the Board of Health moves forward with hiring a candidate for the position.
Iosco County Commissioner Jeff Matthews said a contract with DHD 4 would cause considerable savings.
“That would certainly be more economical,” he said.
West, an Ogemaw County commissioner, said the Board of Health had hired people in the past in order to increase its revenue. He added that the health department needs leadership, which could be provided by a full-time, qualified health officer.
“This department needs leadership,” he said. “And going part-time with another department is setting this department back.”
Hunt said the state is giving the health department until November to find a replacement for its current officer, Lynette Benjamin, and that more avenues should be explored before a final decision is made.
“Why do we have to be in such a hurry?” he said. “We have her here until November.”
Hunt added that one candidate for the job informed the health department he is already making a higher salary than the top of the health officer range of $70,000 to $86,000.
Val Sherosky, who clerks the board’s meetings, said a second candidate, Denise Bryant, would have to relocate and informed the department via email that she would prefer $79,000 in salary to make it worth moving.
Scott said Bryant’s salary and benefits would equal about $101,166. She said the other interested candidate, Jim Edmunds, would cost about $90,921 in wages and benefits, according to an email to the department.
The process of replacing Benjamin officially started in May when a letter from Jean Chabut, deputy director of the State Public Health Administration, warned the board Benjamin’s status as a provisional heath officer was being revoked.
“The initial appointment, made in June 2009, stipulated the approval was provisional and conditional on Ms. Benjamin enrolling and finishing a Master of Public Health degree by June of 2012,” the letter said. “No progress has been made to date on the degree requirement.”
The board of health advertised the position from late in May to June 14. It received 11 applications and interviewed three candidates.
DHD 4 includes Montmorency, Presque Isle, Cheboygan and Alpena counties.