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Social Services declines part in a Health and Human Services Commission

By Kathy Chaffin

Salisbury Post

The Rowan County Department of Social Services won’t be participating in the Strategic Planning Commission’s efforts to organize a Health and Human Services Commission.

The Board of Social Services voted unanimously Tuesday night to decline participation in the Health and Human Services Commission “until such time as we are instructed to do otherwise by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.”

Among the reasons outlined in a resolution to that effect were that the Health and Human Services Commission “would be unlikely to further our department’s interest in maintaining the close working relationship that we value with our county commission” and that the subcommittee “could only deliver on the lofty goals of its mission statement if it were directly accountable to our elected officials.”

Board member Jim Sides said he and his fellow county commissioners are reviewing the roles of boards, commissions, subcommittees and independent organizations purported to have been organized by the various boards and committees established by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.

While some, such as the Board of Social Services and Board of Health, are mandated by the state, others are stand-alone boards. A couple, such as the Rowan Parks Committee and the Rowan Public Library Board of Trustees, he said, do not report to Rowan commissioners even though they oversee county departments.

Sides said there are a lot of different governing bodies in Rowan County. “In my opinion, some of them have gotten out of hand,” he said. “They’ve begun to make policies for the county, and they weren’t established for that purpose.”

The Health and Human Services Commission being organized by the Strategic Planning Commission would not report to the county commissioners, he said, but to the Strategic Planning Commission. While the Health and Human Services Commission has a good mission statement, Sides said he feels its efforts are duplicating efforts already being made by other boards.

Social Services Board Chairman Jeff Morris said he had similar concerns. After reading a copy of the goals for the Health and Human Services Commission, “I became even more concerned,” he said. “It just looks like something that’s sort of being created out of the air.”

One problem with having boards that don’t report to county commissioners, Sides said, is that they may apply for grants that require matching funds from the county. Once a grant has been approved, he said commissioners may feel a certain obligation to try to match it.

Sides said he is asking County Manager Bill Cowan to require boards to notify county officials before applying for grants requiring a local match. It’s the commissioners’ obligation, he said, to stay abreast of such matters.

Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.

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