Health commissioner resigns amid budget mess

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By Nancy Schaar
FPS Correspondent

 

CARROLLTON – Leann Cline has resigned from her duties as Carroll County Health Commissioner.

A press release was issued Monday by the Health Board announcing the resignation, which was effective March 10.

Employees were informed of the resignation Monday by Dr. Scott Stine, Health Board president, as they arrived at work.

Stine scheduled an emergency meeting of the health board this Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the upper level of the health department, located at 301 Moody Ave. SW, Carrollton.   The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the current status of the health department. The meeting is open to the public.

The FPS contacted Stine to ask if Cline provided a reason for leaving.

He provided a copy of a letter dated March 1 from Cline to the health board stating, “ my time as your health commissioner is coming to an end.”

“As part of my transition out as health commissioner, I would like to hear from the board how you would like me to proceed. I am not one to leave abruptly, especially when I respect all of you and the staff, so I am open to hearing what strategy you’d like for me to take moving forward,” she wrote.

In the letter, Cline said she is very passionate about public health, however her passion has taken a toll on her overall health and is hindering a healthy work/life balance.

She spoke of the countless hours she spent trying to make necessary changes and keep the department afloat and her efforts to pass a levy.

“While I would gladly do this again, I feel as though the community doesn’t see the value of our services and this saddens me greatly. In return, this has inspired me to take my career in another direction,” she wrote.

Cline was involved in numerous problems that occurred with the submission of the health department budget to the county auditor last December.

Commissioners met in special session on Dec. 29 solely for the purpose of approving the proposed county budget for 2018. The health department failed to submit a budget to the auditor throughout December. Deadlines were set for submission, but were not met. Cline told commissioners she needed “a few more hours”.

Commissioners repeatedly recessed several times throughout the day finally giving up and adjourned at 3 p.m.

Just prior to a deadline set by the state auditor’s office to file the budget, Cline said $400,000 was found in an account that she didn’t know about.

When asked by the media how she, members of the Board of Health and their bookkeeper did not know there was $400,000 in grant money sitting there, Cline said on the Excel spread sheet there was a “hidden tab”.

That instance came following a visit from Cline and Stine Nov. 20, 2017, when they asked for help because they could not balance the budget for 2018. They were short $70,000.

Commissioners came up with $22,000 due the department for their share of a rebate from worker’s compensation.

Commissioners questioned Cline at that time if the $22,000 was included in the $70,000 needed to balance the budget. Cline replied she didn’t know. They were also able to offer the remaining $48,000.

Cline was asked how many employees were in the department, and replied she didn’t know.

Commissioner Bob Wirker was extremely frustrated at the Nov. 30 meeting because he could not get a straight answer from Cline or Stine regarding exact amounts needed to balance the budget.

“I’ve been trying to get a straight answer since last Wednesday and we can’t get to the bottom line,” Wirkner said during the Nov. 30 meeting.

A few days later, commissioners were shocked to learn from Cline she no longer needed the $48,000.

Cline told commissioners by adding $133,000 in carryover funds, they would be able to balance the budget.

At a required yearly meeting of the Advisory Committee for the health department March 8, Cline was questioned about finding $400,000 she didn’t know she had.

“During the transition to fiscal oversight we were working with the spread sheets and it was miscommunicated to myself and to our new CPA firm. I assumed information was relayed to our consultant, Adam (Litke), and with that being said, we were scrambling last minute to get things done and with that being said, it was cut, cut, cut and we starting calling attorneys to see what all we could do to cut the $400,000 and in the midst of all that we discovered there was a tab that didn’t calculate all the grants. It was misconstrued to the public that we had a hidden tab. No, it was a spread sheet we were working on,” said Cline.

The reference for “finding a hidden tab” came directly from Cline to county commissioners. At the trustees meeting, she denied making the statement.

Cline also denied other statements she made to commissioners during the budget process. Commissioners provided the news media copies of documents that proved the communication.

Cline was hired in 2015 to replace Nicholas Cascarelli, who accepted a job as health commissioner in Wayne County.