Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 20, 2017

County considers giving more duties to mental health office

By DIANE VANCE | Dec 02, 2013

Jefferson County and the city of Fairfield bought a Geography Information System/Pictometry for joint use and need to create a 28E agreement between the two government agencies.

“More than a year ago we agreed to purchase this and now we have and made the first of three payments on it,” said Kevin Flanagan, Fairfield city administrator at the Nov. 25 county board of supervisors meeting.

Assistant County Attorney Pat McAvan has written a draft agreement, Sheri Blough, county assessor said.

“You have a tool here for use by government entities and you won’t use it fully. At some point you need to fund and develop a job for its full use,” said Flanagan.

Supervisor Dick Reed said he would hope the GIS/pictometry tool would increase productivity and pay for itself.

GIS/pictometry uses aerial photos of the land and transparent overlays can show any number of infrastructures, such as sewer lines, water mains, gas pipes, etc. The computer program can show a building in 3-D and be turned for 360-degree views.

Blough will use the pictometry to track improvements and buildings in Jefferson County. The city can use it for mapping infrastructure and mining data for planning, economic development and more.

Flanagan said the city and county could share an information technology person to run and manage the program. He estimated the position should pay about $70,000.

“GIS is the new technology that everyone will use for greater efficiency,” said Flanagan.

Reed said, as a former self-employed business man/contractor, he estimated that to start a new department, the overall cost would be double the salary Flanagan quoted.

“Salary is only part of the costs,” said Reed. “A new position needs office space, furniture, equipment, job benefits, utility expenses, etc.”

Blough said once the program is up and running, she hopes to make it available for the public’s viewing.

“People couldn’t change anything, but they could view it,” she said. “I’d also like to get the school district involved with this.”

Last year, when it was discussed, there was talk about law enforcement being able to use GIS also.

“So, it’s not a program that’s going to make money, but it’s about providing services,” said Reed.

The supervisors approved moving forward with getting a 28E agreement between the county and city.

Ray Chambers, county General Assistance director and director of Veterans Affairs Commission for the county, told the supervisors on Nov. 25 that the number of veterans he’s seeing has been increasing.

“In 2012, I saw 214 veterans,” Chambers said. “To date this year, I’ve seen 325. The number of people I see in general assistance is increasing also. I could continue, but it’s going to start taking a toll on the job I’m doing for veterans.

“When I do retirement paperwork for veterans, it brings money back into the county.”

Chambers said he’s paid $6,000 per year for the General Assistance duties. He said he could use part of a grant for the veterans office to make up the $6,000 so he wouldn’t take a pay cut.

It was suggested to transfer the General Assistance office duties to the county’s Center Point of Coordination, Mental Health Administration.

“It would be a better fit for my office,” said CPC Sandy Stever. “I estimate it would add about three to four hours of work per week to my office.”

“I think General Assistance is a good thing,” said Reed.

“I don’t think your hours in the office will change,” Reed said to Stever. “It’s for the taxpayers. I think you should take it on without any extra pay.”

Stever said Reed could find another office than hers to take on the job without extra pay. She has one office assistant, Leah.

“Leah has worked here six years and is at or close to the bottom of the pay scale,” said Stever. “It’s not fair and equal. I’ve asked before to increase her salary and you’ve always said no. New hires are coming in [to the county workforce] at higher salaries than she makes now.

“I had already planned to take none of the $6,000 for myself even though I’ll be doing General Assistance too, but give it all to Leah because her pay rate is so low,” said Stever.

Supervisor Chairman Lee Dimmitt said the supervisors didn’t know what the mental health regional concept will look like for the county’s mental health office.

“I don’t think we can know what’s going to happen,” said Dimmitt.

Stever pointed out none of the supervisors had made any comments to Chambers about a pay cut.

“You didn’t say this to Ray or anyone else,” said Stever.

Reed said she was taking his comment wrong; “Or it came out the wrong way,” he said.

Dimmitt said the board would table Chambers’ request until the next meeting and asked Stever to provide salary figures from the mental health office.

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