New Coastal Health District Health Director Dr. Diane Weems dealt with allegations and complaints regarding Long County’s environmental-health office Thursday during the Long County Board of Health’s quarterly meeting.
Board member and County Commissioner Clifton DeLoach said that at a recent commissioner’s meeting, the issue of the cost to have a septic tank inspected in the county was brought up. DeLoach was told that the fee was $135, and he felt that was too high. He also said it was reported that a citizen made several attempts to reschedule an appointment with environmental-health officer Fredrick Walton but was charged an additional $35 for the second appointment.
DeLoach also said that the customer had requested a faxed copy of the inspection. Walton said he could not fax it, but that he could receive a copy of the report at his office for 25 cents. DeLoach said that this was not the first time that he received complaints regarding the environmental-health office.
Weems said the fees that were being charged in Long County were comparable to those in similar-sized communities. She added that the current fees applied do not cover the cost of what it takes to provide the service, and that increasing the fees had been considered.
Walton said he did not charge anyone a second fee of $35 for a missed appointment. He said that the only time an additional fee is applied is if the septic tank did not pass its inspection and if there is some kind of problem.
BoH Chairperson Rosezea Baggs, replying to DeLoach, said that often, people in Long County do not like change and, many times, create problems that aren’t there.
Walton also said he did not fax copies of the inspection forms to customers because sometimes they would not receive a clear copy. He said he provides two copies to customers, who are charged for any additional copy.
After a brief discussion, Weems said that the faxing policy needed to be reviewed because customers should be able to receive a faxed copy. She added that a disclaimer needed to be applied to the request stating that the clarity of the copy could not be guaranteed.
In regard to the fees for services, Weems said it would be a good idea to post a copy of all fees so that citizens can review them.
Weems also said that any changes to fee schedule would have to be approved by both the BoH and the commissioners, and that the last schedule was approved in 2009.
More on the meeting will be in a future edition of the Courier.