Putnam County Commissioners will continue to help provide support for indigent care at Putnam General Hospital for another year.
The BOC passed the 2019 budget on Friday, Aug. 31, allotting PGH $400,000 — a $150,000 increase from what was originally proposed.
Several hospital supporters spoke with commissioners at a budget work session on Aug. 10 about what the hospital means to the community and for economic development in the area, as well as the amount of indigent care debt the hospital accrues.
The budget resolution was passed 3-2 with not all of the commissioners agreeing to the changes.
“In my opinion, the success of the Georgia Heart Tax Credit Program, which last year yielded over $600,000 in contributions to the hospital and this year will produce about $1.5 million in contributions to the hospital... just seems to me that program, the success of that program has allowed for adequate funding from the taxpayers for Putnam General Hospital,” Hersey said.
Commissioner Kelvin Irvin said that after hearing the hospital supporter’s plea at the budget session, he is confident the Georgia Heart program could help correct some of the hospital’s debt.
“I’m willing to give them a shot after hearing (Rhonda Perry) from Navicent say they are willing to work with them,” Irvin said.
Commissioner Trevor Addison, who proposed the changes that would increase the hospital’s budget closer to previous year’s numbers, said he didn’t wish for the hospital authority to redirect their efforts at attempting to filling another hole.
“I want them to solely focus on paying down the debt, and they have a plan to do that,” Addison said. “I don’t want to hinder that goal in anyway.”
The budget approved by commissioners had three other changes, including a decision to reduce coroner, Gary MacElhenney’s salary $12,936 from the proposed $67,891, putting it back at the 2018 budget amount.
“The state did not issue any raises to elected officials this year,” said Addison for his reasoning behind the reduction.
The adopted budget will also accommodate Judge elect Dorothy Adams’ request of $14,388 for part-time employee help.
“It also reflects the judge opting out of health insurance as
she has indicated she would,”
Addison said. “I
think Jan. 1 she
doesn’t need to be relying on local legislation passing, and should it not, her office should run efficiently.”
The adopted budget also calls for $35,997 being added back to health department budget.
“That department in history, as far back at least as I can see, has never gone over budget,” Addison said. “They never ask for hardly anything, and I thought it was necessary to make them whole.”