Health board plans to own its building in 7 years PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Friday, 15 March 2013 10:26
In seven years, the Wood County Health District will own the building it is using on East Gypsy Lane Road.
At Thursday's board meeting, members unanimously voted on a lease-to-own agreement with the Wood County Commissioners, who currently own the building and lease it to the health department for about $96,000 a year.
When the health district wanted a new building, it could not borrow the necessary money, so the county agreed to build the structure on county-owned land. The county acts like a bank, or the mortgage holder, and the district makes payments every year.
"The agreement clarifies all the issues," said Andrew Kalmar, county administrator, this morning. "When the health department finishes paying the bond payments, they'll own the building."
Bill Ault, director of administration for the health district, explained at the meeting that the district will continue paying the annual debt of the building until 2020.
"Once that's done, the building will be ours," he stated.
The building was opened in 1994, with a 25-year bond schedule, explained Kalmar. In 2013, the district made a payment of $96,442.50 on the debt owed and will continue similar payments until 2020.
The transfer in ownership also means a transfer in responsibility on the upkeep of the structure.
Board members agreed a new roof was critical, but under the language of the contract, the commissioners keep the power to go to bid on upcoming projects, leaving the health district no say on who does the work or how much it costs.
According to Kalmar, that is typical on a building that continues to be leased.
The question of whether levy dollars can be used to replace the roof was raised by board member Betty Woods.
According to Fleming Fallon, board chairman, because it's a lease expense, levy money can be used for structural repairs.
Ault suggested the board amend the contract to include a clause to allow the board to have input on future building work.
As a health district, the board does not have to take bids on a project, and can simply gather quotes, which could ultimately be cheaper, he stated.
"We have no control whatsoever other than footing the bill," Ault said about the current wording of the contract.
He claimed that the county notoriously uses one company to do all its work, which might not be the best or the cheapest option for the job. Despite his protests, the board voted to move ahead with the contract as written.
The county will have specifications for the roof work, and will be taking bids on the project, said Kalmar.
"As in terms on who has the say over who does the work, the county will accept the lowest and best bid," he stated.
And since the building is still owned by the county, the county control who does the work.
"Technically, they don't own the building," he added.
Also Thursday, board members unanimously agreed on a 99-year lease with the county commissioners regarding the land on which the health district's building sits.
The terms indicate the district will pay the county $1 a year for the use.
According to Fallon, there currently is no such agreement with the county.
In other action, board member Richard Strow asked what the plan was to get information to the 22 entities that were not represented at the District Advisory Council meeting March 7.
There are 43 village, townships, towns and cities within the DAC, which acts to appoint members to the board of health and make recommendations to the board. Twenty-three attended the annual DAC meeting.
"What is our outreach program for the 22 not at the DAC meeting?" Strow asked.
Pam Butler, health commissioner, said she will visit each of the entities that weren't in attendance.
Strow said the district can do outreach, but it also needs to hold those officials responsible for their electorates.
More clients for the nursing services means more money for the district, and it is residents in the smaller communities that can use the help. But the barrier in Wood County is there are no transportation options.
Butler added that the health district continues to run radio advertisements, public service announcements, attend health fairs and mail information to physicians to get word out about available services.
"We do any awful lot," Butler said.

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