Franklin County Commission

Franklin County has still not hired a new food inspector following a lack of food establishment inspections by the county health department.

Funding a new inspector could be a problem. Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said he does not know if a new one will be hired at this time.

He said he needs to speak with new health department Director Angie Hittson about the matter.

The priority at this time is making the former county prosecutor’s office the new health department facility, Griesheimer said.

Meanwhile, Griesheimer said the health department is getting food establishment inspections done. The commissioners have received every indication that all food establishments will be inspected this year, Griesheimer added.

Hittson, who was appointed by the commission in April as the new health department director, has said that she would like to hire an additional inspector.

Hittson expressed interest in hiring a new inspector when The Missourian reported that there were a lack of food establishment inspections in 2011 and 2012.

The newspaper reported that there were between 460 and 500 food establishments in the county in those years. But in 2011 there were only 186 inspections conducted and in 2012, 368, according to health department records. The food establishments were supposed to be inspected once a year.

In late April, Hittson said the county health department employed one full-time and one part-time inspector. She could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday.

Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz said county officials have still got to figure out a way to come up with the money to pay for an additional inspector. Schatz said he is worried about possible budget impacts coming from the Affordable Healthcare Act.

First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said county officials are still looking at the idea of hiring another inspector. Ideally, it would be great to have more help on inspections, Brinker added.

County commissioners and Hittson may have to work with County Auditor Tammy Vemmer to see where money could come from in the budget to hire another inspector, Schatz added.

Schatz could not speculate on the likelihood that another inspector would be hired this fiscal year.

Despite the uncertainty over whether the county can afford a new inspector, officials have vowed to inspect all the food establishments this year.

Schatz noted that the county commissioners have a lot of confidence in Hittson as the new health department director.

It would be unfortunate to hire a new inspector only for the funding not to be there next year to keep the position in the budget, Schatz said.

He said he does not know if grants are available to help pay for another inspector.

The goal is to continue having a first-rate health department, Schatz said. That is why the county is investing in the project to remodel the former county prosecutor’s office into the new health department, he said.