An audit of the Johnson County Mental Health Center is top priority for the county commission as it prepares to begin operating as the mental health department’s governing board.
By ROXIE HAMMILL
Special to The Star
Commissioners directed interim County Auditor Ken Kleffner to begin looking at how the mental health center could improve its billing, budgeting, record keeping and the performance of its employees. They stressed that time is of the essence as the new year begins. In fact, Commissioner Steve Klika suggested the county look for an outside auditor if it would speed things along.
“I’m just a little bit concerned this is going to take six months to get this audit done,” Klika said. “We’ve been going through the trauma of this organization for the last year.”
The mental health department had a rocky year in 2013, ending with a budget shortfall that required the commission to come up with about $1 million in bailout money. In addition, the center’s executive director resigned and the commission dissolved the center’s governing board, deciding to take on that role themselves.
As the year begins, the commissioners and the county manager’s office have a full to-do list. They hope to have a new advisory board, which will look at how the center serves the community, by next month. A new executive director must also be appointed. That job is being done in the interim by Assistant County Manager Maury Thompson.
And the center’s finances must be sorted out for next year’s budget, which will be drawn up this spring.
“Can I assume the message of timeliness has been received?” said Commissioner Ed Peterson, to chuckles from the rest of the commission.
Kleffner said he expects to be able to finish the audit within six months, but would report results back to the board in increments as they are finished. The audit will be done with funds from the auditor’s 2013 “special projects” budget.
The county will examine the center’s operations in several key areas: A new electronic medical records system, billing, collection, income and fees, performance indicators, internal management reporting, administrative functions, programs, staff productivity and administrative costs.
The audit topics were inspired by a report last November from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, which offered recommendations.
Commissioner Michael Ashcraft suggested auditors also take a step back and look at how the center’s operation affects the county with regards to “risk and vulnerability.”