Board considers salary, benefits for new health commissioner

EAST LIVERPOOL – An ordinance establishing salary and benefits for newly-appointed health commissioner Carol Cowan is being considered by the board of health.

The ordinance was presented at Thursday’s meeting for action, but board member Dr. Jeff Caldwell said he would first like to see the ordinance that was in place for the former commissioner to compare figures.

Mayor Jim Swoger, who heads the health board, said copies of the ordinance pertaining to former Commissioner Jelayne Dray’s salary and benefits will be provided to members prior to the next meeting.

After the meeting, he provided a copy to the newspaper, noting that the salary proposed for Cowan is $21.45 per hour, retroactive to Feb. 24, which is 45 cents per hour higher than Dray received.

Swoger said the extra 45 cents reflects the same across-the-board salary increase given all other city employees this year.

Cowan will also receive the same $150 per month car allowance afforded Dray.

The ordinance also included a change in vacation time, granting Cowan three weeks vacation for up to one year of service, compared to two weeks Dray received for that same time period. Four weeks will be received after three years and five weeks after at least five years of service.

Swoger pointed out that no one will be paid to replace Cowan when she is on vacation and she will not receive vacation pay, just her normal salary, so the city will not be paying more when she is off.

Other provisions of the ordinance include three bereavement days; four personal days; and insurance benefits the same as other city employees receive.

Attending her first board of health meeting since being appointed, Cowan offered a laundry list of projects and programs she has tackled in her first three weeks on the job, including making sure all food service licenses are submitted, with just two outstanding.

Cowan said she had accompanied sanitarian Jim Ferguson on some inspections and has initiated updating of the health department web site, which will also result in the entire city site getting some attention.

The health nurse’s office is also going to be revamped with a new door that will allow for more security, since currently people can walk right into the office where medications and files are kept.

Cowan said she is also looking at adding some new nursing programs.

A mission statement Cowan composed was also presented to the board for review for future consideration.

Cowan said she is exploring the possibility of an event in May to promote healthy lifestyles which would include motivational speakers, nutritional information and other activities.

She also told the board she is actively seeking grant funding, saying, “There are so many opportunities out there.”

Health nurse Stephanie Summers reported receiving information about a mumps outbreak in southern Ohio, where 28 cases were confirmed. She said vaccinations are recommended, with no treatment currently available for the virus.

The board will meet next at 4 p.m. April 17.