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Bill snafu pulls plug on phones at health dept.


June 20, 2013

The temporary disconnection of the phone system at the city health department on April 30 stemmed from a problem with a bill which cost four times the normal amount.

City Health Commissioner Richard Setty explained the situation to health board members Wednesday after board member Judy Sicilia questioned an $895 payment to the phone company on the financial report.

Setty said the business local calling plan was due to expire and needed renewed or they needed to come up with a new package, so he talked to a customer service representative and came up with a new plan. The old plan expired and then the city received a bill for $895. The normal bill was about $200.

He wanted a corrected bill sent, but AT&T said the city had to pay the bill and then be credited on subsequent bills. A disconnect notice was sent and the phones were disconnected temporarily, with service restored a few hours later after numerous phone calls to AT&T by the city auditor's office.

Setty said the situation was being resolved. According to the auditor's office, the health department was overcharged by $495 on the bill and is now carrying a credit.

In another financial matter, Setty said he checked into a question raised last month about the increased amount of state subsidy the city received and learned the amount was correct. He had budgeted for $900 for the rebate, but the department actually received $1,821 from the state. They also only budgeted for licenses for two tattoo businesses, but they actually licensed three establishments, with $1,350 received instead of $900.

Setty updated board members on the positive rabies cases in the area, noting that a positive rabies case was reported in Trumbull County involving a feral cat. That brings the number of positive rabies cases to four in the state, including the three reported in Mahoning County. Board members talked about bats and advised any residents who suspect any kind of exposure to a bat to talk to their doctor, especially if they find a bat in a bedroom where someone's been sleeping.

With the Salem Super Cruise beginning, Sicilia asked if the sanitarian checks any of the regular food businesses during the cruise besides inspecting the cruise food vendors, noting they're probably super busy and he may want to check in on them to make sure everything's getting done.

"We want to protect the public," said Mayor John Berlin, who chairs the health board.

Setty said perhaps the sanitarian could just pop in for a quick visit.

In other business, the board reviewed proposed customer satisfaction surveys for vital statistics, environmental health and the nursing division put together through a consortium of health departments. Board members suggested taking out sections that don't pertain to the Salem city health department, with Setty suggesting they leave in services provided to Salem residents by the Columbiana County health department.

Setty also told the board a nurse from the Alliance City Health Department gave the Salem city health department nurse a heads-up about a program for free confidential HIV testing. He said the Alliance health department received a grant and can expand the service to other health district areas and was looking to do the program in Salem, the county and the East Liverpool health districts.

Setty said he has not been formally approached about the program.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at



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