The Franklin County Health Department recently hired a temporary employee to assist with food establishment inspections.

The inspector is assisting the health department’s full-time and part-time inspector conduct reviews of the county’s food establishments.

Following a lack of inspections being conducted in 2011 and 2012, Health Department Director Angie Hittson said she wanted to hire another full-time inspector to help.

But she said Wednesday that there are no plans to hire another inspector at this time because there is no money in the budget for it.

Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz agreed that the county’s budget cannot support another full-time inspector now.

With the help of the temporary inspector it looks as if the health department is “gaining ground” on getting inspections done, Schatz added.

Schatz said he would like to see how the additional temporary inspector works out. That may be sufficient to get the county where it needs to be with inspections without hiring another full-time inspector, Schatz added.

If another full-time inspector is hired, it would mean the county would have to pay for benefits for that employee, Schatz said.

Ideally, Hittson said she would still like to have another full-time inspector. The temporary inspector is all the budget would support at this time. But she hopes she can get another full-time inspector in next year’s budget.

Bringing on a temporary inspector to assist is a great compromise between getting the health department the help it needs and being responsible with taxpayer funds, Schatz said.

Hittson said she does not know how long the temporary inspector will work for the county. She added that the health department will use his services as long as his schedule allows.

Currently, there are 463 food establishments in Franklin County. The health department has completed inspections on 310 of the locations so far this year, Hittson said Wednesday.

There have been a total of 507 inspections performed on the food establishments so far this year, and that includes initial inspections and follow up inspections. It is rare for there to be an inspection when no violations are found, Hittson noted.

The Missourian learned in April that the county failed to conduct annual inspections on all local food establishments in 2011 and 2012. In those years, there were between 460 and 500 food establishments in the county. But in 2011 there were only 186 inspections conducted and in 2012, 368, according to health department records.

Hittson was not the health department director during those years.

The temporary inspector, Barry Johnston, started with the health department July 3 and is working part time. He is a former health department employee and is now making $15 an hour.