Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

February 20, 2013

BOC receives update on mental health

AMERICUS — At Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Sumter County Board of Commissioners, the Rev. David Kitchens, chairman of the Region 6 Mental Health Planning Board, and Beth Ragan, CEO of Middle Flint Behavioral Health Care, presented information on mental health in Sumter County.

Kitchens told the Board that changes in the field of behavioral health and developmental disability in recent years have led to the closing of all but one mental health hospital in the state. He said providers of mental health care services, like Middle Flint, provide care in the form of “day services.”

“They are helping a lot of people. They really are,” Kitchens said.

There are 31 counties in Region 6. Services are contracted out to providers in different areas of the Region. Kitchens told the commissioners that Middle Flint spends around $2.4 million per year in Sumter County in addition to another $2.7 million in Medicaid and medical insurance billing.

He said the main objective of mental health service providers is to keep mental health patients out of hospitals and the judicial system. He said when patients receive emergency room care, it is difficult to get them out of the system and the same goes for law enforcement. Kitchens added that over half of the deputies in Sumter County are trained in crisis intervention and can make determinations in regards to subjects with mental health issues. The overall goal is for those receiving mental health services is to function productively in society, Kitchens explained.

Ragan said as CEO, she intends to keep an open line of communication with the Board of Commissioners.

“Middle Flint is one of 24 community service boards in the state. We represent eight counties. Sumter County is the hub of the eight counties,” she said.

Ragan added that substance abuse and mental retardation are also prevalent issues that Middle Flint addresses as it provides care for 4,000 people. She said between 3,000 and 3,500 consumers are in Sumter County alone.

Commissioner Andrea Brooks expressed her concern about contributions made by the County to Middle Flint. Brooks said that in the past during budget negotiations the Commissioners “didn’t know who to talk to.”

In response, Ragan said Sumter County used to contribute to Middle Flint; however, the other seven counties that Middle Flint provide services in still do contribute. With 250 employees, Middle Flint provides most of its services in Sumter County and some in Crisp, according to Ragan. She added that providing those services is why Middle Flint is important to the community, and its economic impact is secondary.

Ragan also spoke to the businesses’ change in name back to Middle Flint from Southern Star. She said the previous CEO wanted to make the change along with giving the business a more “private” status. Ragan said as CEO, she has no reason to privatize Middle Flint and shunned the stigma of receiving state funding.

“We’re very proud of our state status,” she said. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a state funded program. The difference between being a fully state funded program and a partially state funded program is that we also have to earn the dollars that keep our doors open.”

CPA Bill Krenson also spoke at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, providing a brief overview of the County’s audit report.

Items approved in the consent agenda include:

• TBS contract between Sumter County Board of Assessors and Traylor Business Services Inc. for the business personal property verification program.

• The purchase of two motor graders for the Sumter County Public Works Department from the T-SPLOST funds.

• Request to fill vacant positions — administrative clerk in elections office — $9.58/hour and Tag and Tax clerk — $9.58/hour.

• Intergovernmental agreement between the Board of Commissioners of Sumter County and the Mayor and City Council of Americus for housing prisoners.

• Budget amendment — SPLOST 2007 projects competed; $337,068 transferred.

• Budget amendment — Capital projects, $132,766 transferred.

• Budget amendment — Receipt of LMIG Grant funds — $431,855 (revenue). Infrastructure — $431,855 (expenditure).

• Declaratory resolution for slum and blight area.

Separate items approved.

• Budget amendment — funds of $125,000 for infrastructure to be used for sheriff’s vehicles ($75,000) and fire vehicles ($50,000).

• Approval to purchase Fire Department command vehicles (2 F-150 Super-crew) at $49,985.

• Budget Amendment — General fund and fire fund. Correction to tax premium tax usage. Reducing both revenue and expenditure by $246,000.

• Resolution to approve act of creating State Court of Sumter County.

• Joint resolution to establish a land bank authority.

CDBG grant rounds were discussed. County Administrator Bill Twomey said that Sumter County’s status as a community of opportunity has run out ,thus the County will not be able to apply for a CDBG block grant again until 2014.

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