County approves $60,000 contract for department training

In an effort to increase productivity and revenue, the Centre County Board of Commissioners approved a contract Tuesday to hire Service Access and Management for training in the Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention and Drug and Alcohol department.

The decision comes after department administrator Carol Waltz’s resignation and a SAM report detailing where improvements can be made.

Total cost to the county will be $60,000 through the end of the year, and the contract dictates a minimum of 24 on-site hours per week.

Nan Haver, SAM vice president and chief operating officer, said the company also will provide the county with monthly status updates and reports.

“You should always have a good idea about where you are against your expenses,” she said.

She added that at the end of the training, the program should be self-sufficient outside the required county funding match.

The contract does not amount to a management takeover, County Administrator Tim Boyde said. SAM has trained counties without taking over management of the program afterward.

The changes mostly would boil down to more oversight of money intake, contracts and services to make sure everything is running as efficiently as possible.

Commissioner Michael Pipe has said he will want to closely monitor the progress to make sure the changes are happening like they are supposed to. He maintains that he is strongly against the idea of completely turning management over to SAM and privatizing the department.

Haver said a full management takeover shouldn’t be necessary, and she thinks the county will be able to do it on its own with the temporary help.