Sublette County Rural Health
Meeting with the Sublette County Commissioners
by Sublette County
August 7, 2009
Sublette County Rural Health Care District Administrator Rob Harding met with Sublette County Commissioners Tuesday, August 4, 2009, to provide the commission with a briefing on the districtís finances, including a financial worksheet marked confidential. The commission reviewed the numbers with Harding, but gave the copies back, noting that in general, information provided to the commission during a public meeting are public documents and that the commission prefers transparency in conducting public business.
Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman told Harding that the summary of the districtís finances was not detailed enough to be of use to the commission anyway, and asked that more detailed information be provided.
Harding said that the RHCD wants to have a better working relationship with the county commission, and added that better communications between the two is a goal. He noted that 75 percent of the RHCD budget is from the mill levy and said that he wants the district to become less dependent on mill levy funding through increases in other revenues.
In response to questions posed by County Commissioner John Linn, Harding noted that personnel costs are the majority of the districtís budget, with the cost of running the ambulance services very high. Harding said that the majority of the emergency medical technicians on the service are from out of town and added that the district pays a lot of overtime.
Commission Chairman Bill Cramer asked for a more detailed breakdown of personnel costs, requesting something similar to the public notice the county provides for its employees. That notice lists each position and salary.
Harding asked, "What would you do with that information?"
Cramer explained it has been suggested that the county commission take over operations of the ambulance service in the event of a budget crisis by RHCD.
"I want to know what that expense is," Cramer said. "I want a breakdown of that payroll."
Harding pushed to present payroll information in funding groups rather than individual positions, but the commission rejected that idea.
Cramer continued: "If I donít get it, then my feelings toward the RHCD board are not going to be very good."
Cramer also noted that the commission met with RHCD members during official commission meetings and during those meetings, RHCD asked the commission to fund construction of the two new medical clinics. RHCD pledged to repay that money, but has since reneged on that agreement.
"We were misled, seriously," Cramer said.
Commissioner Joel Bousman said that the commission "cannot in good faith, with fiduciary responsibility" put county taxpayer money into a program without public transparency as to how the money is being spent.
Cramer noted that the RHCD has suggested in the media that the commission should take over the ambulance service, but has never provided the commission with a detailed accounting of how its mill levy money has been spent.
Cramer said, "I am not going to be set up as a scapegoat, as the county commission, for the RHCH not providing services in the county."
In response to questioning from the commission, Harding and RHCD Chief Financial Officer Lorraine Gatzke revealed that the RHCD:
ē pays for three staffed ambulances working out of Pinedale, three in Big Piney/Marbleton and one at Sand Draw; and
ē provides "at market rate" employee housing at its two condos, one house and one mobile home.
Bousman asked about the rumor that the RHCD had paid $1,000 per hour for certain consulting services, but Gatzke said that wasnít true. Harding added: "I sure hope not. To pay that is absurd."
The commission emphasized it needs a better accounting of RHCD spending and finances, as it is public information under state law.
"The public has a right to know," Cramer said. Cramer ended the session with the statement that while he has some issues with the past, his major interest is in the future.