Improving operations of the Johnson County Mental Health Center need to be a top priority for the County Commission in 2014.
The surprises that occurred in 2013 reduced public confidence in one of the key functions of county government.
The center provides help for people with serious mental illnesses, especially lower-income residents.
The facility was not taking in enough money to fully pay its bills last year. The County Commission ultimately dissolved the center’s governing board, and its executive director resigned.
County officials initially estimated it would take up to $1 million in extra funds to bail out the facility, but the final figure may be a bit lower than that.
Overall, Johnson County has been left in the embarrassing position of having poor oversight of a social service, something taxpayers are not used to seeing in the county.
An independent audit, which should be completed by late summer, could provide ways to build a brighter future for the center so it can better serve residents.
As The Star reported, plenty of areas could be investigated, including billing, collection of fees, internal management reporting and staff productivity.
While the commission’s takeover of the mental health center’s operations were criticized in some circles, the elected officials ultimately must make sure it provides good care at a fair price for users.
The commission should be held accountable for making sure an aggressive and in-depth audit is completed. Then the commissioners must make sure well-designed improvements for the mental health center are put in place.