03/16/05 — Wayne County commissioners find it's only county paying for Eastpointe services

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Wayne County commissioners find it's only county paying for Eastpointe services

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 16, 2005 1:49 PM

Wayne County pays its fair share to cover mental health services at Eastpointe, but county commissioners learned Tuesday that Duplin and Sampson counties aren't paying theirs.

The commissioners decided to send a letter to the Eastpointe Board of Directors, requesting that those two counties pay the amount required for services provided by the agency.

Eastpointe was formed in 2003, with a merger of the Wayne County Mental Health Center and the Duplin-Sampson-Lenoir center. It now is responsible for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services in the four-county region.

County Manager Lee Smith said that many of the Eastpointe services were reimbursed through programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and other state and federal grants. But, there are some services that aren't reimbursed, Smith said. Each county is supposed to pay Eastpointe for the services it uses that aren't reimbursed through state or federal money.

Wayne County pays $690,000 to Eastpointe, which covers the services not reimbursed.

He said that Lenoir County covers its costs, but that both Duplin and Sampson are not paying enough.

"If you look at what services they use, it's nowhere near what's being paid into the system," Smith said.

He said that the two counties paid about $125,000 each annually, but the costs incurred by each were between $325,000 and $350,000.

Last year, the Duplin County commissioners voted to give Eastpointe $122,500, which was $2,500 less than Duplin's original share.

A state law allows counties to make a one-time reduction.

"I strongly recommend they move their funding up," Smith said. "If we're truly partners, they should cover their costs.

County Commissioner Atlas Price said he was in favor of each county paying its "fair share."

Commissioner John Bell said he thought it was a contractual obligation that each county pay for services used, but not reimbursed.

Price suggested that the commissioners send the Eastpointe board a letter, letting it know of the requirements. Commissioner Andy Anderson agreed, saying now was a good time to do it since the counties were working on budgets.