WALKER -- The Cass County Board on Tuesday referred to a committee of the county administrator, health and human services director and personnel committee (Commissioners Glenn Witham and John Stranne) the question of why there has been employee turnover in the health and human services department this year.
Commissioner Jim Dowson first raised the issue early this summer.
Responding to a question from a resident in his district, Dowson told the board he found there have been a number of board actions on personnel replacements this year.
Health and Human Services Director Dorothy Opheim reported last month the majority of those board actions related to promotions within the department, following a few retirements and resignations.
The issue re-surfaced Tuesday, however, when Opheim asked the board to approve writing off some health services accounts receivable as uncollectible.
Some of those funds probably would not be collectible, because, like on Medicare processing, the county cannot collect a difference between the sum billed to reflect costs and Medicare approved payments, Opheim said.
However, there was not a breakdown of the $225,818.56 accounts receivable between the amount represented in such funds and those the county may have lost by late billings. Those billings occurred during employee turnovers in the health department accounts clerk position. Deadlines could not be met during the turnover period, Opheim said.
"We need to know whether these people are underpaid or overworked," Dowson said, adding the board needs to address the root cause of turnover problems.
Opheim said there has been a workload problem with the health services accounts clerk position, partially because there has been a backlog of work left when people have resigned from that position.
Maybe the board needs to authorize more overtime or more employees if workload is a problem, Dowson suggested, adding the board needs to know the reason.
The board Tuesday delayed action on Opheim's request to write off the unrecovered accounts receivable, representing a period from 1994 to May 2001.
Should the county board and staff committee fail to find a root cause for employee turnover, Commissioner Jim Demgen suggested the board should hire an outside, independent investigator.
Opheim has told the board in the last month the majority of employee position changes in the social services division resulted from people moving to other counties or states, retirements and from internal promotions resulting from those changes.
Only about two resignations were from employees taking another job in the Walker area, she said.
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