Polk approves funding for running its own health department
COLUMBUS—Polk County is gearing up to run its own health department and approved start-up costs this week.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday night and approved a budget amendment of $40,573 from its contingency fund to begin hiring and training employees beginning in June. The county recently decided to break off from the regional health department with Rutherford and McDowell counties and run its own health department. The county will fully fund the department beginning next fiscal year, which will begin July 1.
“This is basically monies needed during the month of June,” said commissioner Ray Gasperson.
Polk County joined with Rutherford County in the 1970s, with McDowell County joining later. Previous to the merger, Polk ran its own health district, which includes all health department services as well as environmental services, such as well and septic permits and restaurant inspections.
Polk County Consolidated Human Services Director Joshua Kennedy said last month that Polk County expected to allocate $238,562 to the Rutherford Polk McDowell Health District in 2020 and by 2022, expected to allocate more than $280,000 to the joint district.
Polk’s standalone health department is expected to cost the county $236,850 in 2020 and by 2022, the county expects to save $63,000, according to Kennedy.
Commissioners directed Pittman and Kennedy a few months ago to study creating its own health district. The move came after well and septic permits through the joint health district were seven weeks behind schedule.
Kennedy told commissioners Monday night that the county has already began advertising for positions to start the health department and the response has been positive so far. The county plans to hire eight employees to run its own department.