By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court addressed the ongoing concerns about the county’s healthcare woes during a court session held on Tuesday, July 25.

The first agenda item pertaining to the healthcare matter involved discussion and consideration of updating an interlocal agreement with the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD).

“In the previous year’s budget, we (Houston County) funded 25 percent of the ambulance contract while 75 percent was funded by the hospital district,” Houston County Auditor Melissa Mosley said.

“In the current budget, however,” Mosley continued, “We have (meeting) minutes that show the HCHD would pick up 100 percent of the funding. We have the letter where it was requested and in our budget (this year) we have zero dollars allocated.”

Mosley explained while the monies would no longer come from the county coffers “… the contract is still in our name. We still need to make sure the payments are made and the money still needs to flow through us. It was approved, we just didn’t come back and do the paperwork.”

A motion was made and approved to update the interlocal agreement.

The next agenda item addressed by the court concerned an emergency budget amendment to the 2017 budget to help fund the Lifeguard Ambulance service through Sept. 30.

The auditor said the court needed to change the current budget to reflect an increase in revenue to show where the HCHD paid for the ambulance service and to show the expenditures where the payments were made.

“We didn’t include the pass through expenditure and revenue. Technically, it’s not increasing the overall budget, but it is. I spoke with the outside auditor and she said this was how we need to do this. Our overall budget will show a net increase of zero,” Mosley said.

She added the contract with Lifeguard was in the court’s name and not in the name of the HCHD.

“We need to keep this flowing through us. Then, once we update the agreement, if something is not paid, we can talk to the HCHD after the fact. But, our contract will still be paid,” she added.

Houston County Judge Jim Lovell said this was an item tabled from the previous court session and asked if the HCHD had started paying the monthly fees in the contract.

Mosley replied they already had.

“We just need to look at October until June that we thought was paid. The HCHD is not in a position to pay that. I can tell you they owe $7.5 million. Ultimately, it is our deal under this contract,” Lovell said.

“We can still work out an agreement with the HCHD to get reimbursed for this,” Mosley said. “That is what we are doing today.”

In other matters brought before the court:

  • The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
  • Line item budget amendments were approved.
  • The payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county were approved.
  • The County Treasurer’s and Compensatory reports were received as information by the commissioners.
  • The court approved salaries for new/transfer employees.
  • The commissioners gave their approval for a newly created position of IT support technician, the requisite salary and necessary budget amendments.
  • Matters concerning the county employee health insurance plan along with the Texas County and District Retirement System were approved by the court.
  • Crockett Insurance was approved to offer supplemental insurance to county employees.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.