The new acting director of the Public Health department in Herkimer County on Friday will discuss with some county legislators possible changes to the budget.
County Administrator James Wallace said the budget could change since it has yet to be approved by the full legislature. “With (Dr. Gregory O’Keefe) leaving, it’s kind of unprecedented with us,” he said. “We’re kind of on uncharted territory.”
The Ways and Means and Human Resources committees are set to meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Christina Cain, previously a county Public Health employee, began as acting director on Nov. 25.
O’Keefe had given his resignation to the legislature on Nov. 9, effectively leaving Nov. 24 to pursue his private practice while also taking on the role of Herkimer County jail physician.
Cain said she’ll be asking for a minor change in the budget, because the numbers for post exposure to rabies this year were higher than what was budgeted.
“We’re making sure that number is increased a little more for next year,” she said. “I think the most pleasing part so far was the budget was in such good shape and so accurate.”
An increase may not be as well received as a decrease, Wallace said.
Legislator Bernard Peplinski, R - Ilion, said he wasn’t detailed on the situation, but didn’t have any qualms. “I don’t really have a problem with it if it’s a health thing,” he said.
Legislator Helen Rose, D - Herkimer, said she didn’t have a problem with an increase on the program needs, either. “I wouldn’t see that as controversial, I would see that essential,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade off rabies exposure.”
The Public Health budget for next year currently is about $1.8 million, down about $100,000 from 2012, Wallace said. He added this is largely due to the transition of the certified home health agency and long-term care agency to private hands.
The 2013 budget also includes an assistant director position at a base salary of $50,000 and the elimination of two senior nurses with salaries at about $45,000 each. “Their positions are being eliminated, but they’re bumping into positions within the county,” Wallace said.
Cain added there are additional things that may be discussed, but wasn’t sure what they were.