More than two weeks after becoming part of the Utah County Health Department, the director of the county's Substance Abuse Department says nothing has changed in the way the department operates.
"I've yet to see any difference in my operations," director Bruce Burdick said. "But whether that will change down the road I don't know."County commissioners decided to place the Substance Abuse Department under the direction of the Health Department in December. Commissioner Malcolm Beck said both departments have similar functions and combining them will make programs offered by both departments more efficient.
"We won't be saving any money because the Substance Abuse Department is funded with federal and state dollars, but we will be getting more for the money we spend," Beck said.
Beck said one reason the departments were combined is because of past delays in awarding contracts to drug and alcohol prevention and treatment providers. Several providers complained about the delays in this year's bid process. Under the direction of the Health Department, commissioners feel contracts will be awarded in a more timely manner and that the bid process will not get as much criticism.
"We were to the point that we figured we needed to give it a try," Beck said.
At the time the change was recommended, Burdick opposed it. He said there is no advantage to the taxpayers in his office being under the Health Department's direction. There is no duplication of service and the programs offered by the departments are not similar, he said.
"I could not see any justification for doing it," Burdick said.
The Substance Abuse Department is responsible for coordinating drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs. It also handles court-ordered referrals for DUI offenders. Last year the department handled more than 1,200 new admissions into treatment programs. More than 30,000 county residents participated in prevention and education programs. More than $950,000 of the department's $1.2 million budget comes from state and federal funds.
Burdick said he anticipates programs remaining the same, but now he will have a different boss to report to. He and Health Department director Joseph Miner have had several meetings and no changes have been discussed.
"I haven't heard of any complaints about the way things are going and I'm sure I would have if things were not right," Burdick said.
The Substance Abuse Department office is located in the Utah County Administration Building, but it may be relocated to the Health Services Building in the future.