LACONIA — The Belknap County Executive Committee yesterday agreed to the transfer $20,000 in funds to the medical services account of the Belknap County Corrections Department after Superintendent Dan Ward told them that there were only $800 left in the account.
The committee agreed to conditionally approve the transfer even though the request had yet to be made by Belknap, County Commissioners, who will learn of the request when they meet in a budget workshop today.
Ward told committee members he made the request Monday to Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett, who included it as separate item in addition to the $186,637 in transfer requests already signed off on by the commissioners.
Ward explained that the account was drained by recent major expenditures, including a $4,336 discounted bill from LRGHealthcare, and another payment on Nov. 5 of $6,492 the jail is liable for.
''We're 99.4 percent expended with two months left. We're not realistically going to make it,'' said Ward, who added that he has major concerns for some of the inmates who have recently been placed there on felony drug charges and whom he expects will be incarcerated for many months and who have significant health issues and are unlikely to be freed on bail.
Executive Committee member Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) asked how the county gets reimbursed for the health care costs of inmates, to which Ward replied, ''We don't.'' He said that even if the inmates have medical insurance, which is highly unlikely, the insurance coverage stops the minute they are taken into custody.
He said that means the county is responsible for not only the health care of the inmates, but also for their medication expenses and can face severe penalties if any care or medications are not available.
''All of this is on the county's dime,'' said Ward, who noted that with the recent expansion of Medicaid by the state that the entire bill of a inmate who is on Medicaid can be submitted for reimbursement.
The motion to approve the transfer of funds for the Corrections Department was approved by a 7-2 vote of the committee with only Greemore and fellow Meredith Republican Herb Vadney opposed.
The committee also approved three other separate requests from the commissioners for budget transfers, $35,572 from six health insurance accounts with projected year-end surpluses to nine health insurance accounts projected to be in the red; $110,829 from wage accounts in the nursing home to cover wages in other departments as well as electricity, maintenance and food costs and another $50,326 from wage and Medicare accounts in the nursing home for drugs, different categories of Medicare services, wages and retirement.
All of those requests were approved unanimously by the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) and received two new members yesterday, Democrats Dave Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton, who will serve only until early December, when their terms expire.
They joined the committee as a result of legislation authored by Huot and which passed this year requiring proportional representation on Executive Committees for members of the minority party.
Tilton said that the committee will meet again on Dec. 1 to consider any additional transfer requests from the commissioners and said that he would also like to see a nearly $290,000 federal grant which was received by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department and has already been spent submitted as a supplemental appropriation by commissioners.
An organizational meeting of the newly elected county convention members is scheduled for Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at which time county commissioners will introduce the proposed budget for next year.
During the discussion of the county commission's decision to apply $60,143 of a credit of $127,893 from the credit it received from HealthTrust, the municipal and county insurance risk pool, against the cost of health insurance premiums for county employees, County Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) claimed that Shackett was not being truthful in the information she had provided to auditors and the trust. Worsman maintained that funds could not be diverted to health insurance accounts without first being approved as a supplemental appropriation.
Shackett vehemently denied the charge, telling Worsman, ''I will not let you accuse me of being untruthful."
None of the other eight members of the committee spoke in support of Worsman's position.
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