The Timpanogos Mental Health Authority board approved a budget of almost $7 million for 1988-89, which will lead to almost triple the number of professional staff members and, at the same time, reduce by a third the current staff at Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center.
"We cannot do what we've done without turmoil among the staff," said David Dangerfield, the center's interim director. By eliminating speciality contracts at the center, the majority of the staff will be salaried. Many employees, however, are not qualified for those salaried positions.At the authority board meeting Tuesday, eight of the nine commissioners from Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties agreed to support the budget put together by the center's interim management team, but they refused to increase county funding for the center by 5 percent.
Wasatch County Commissioner Larry Duke voted against the motion that the counties not be responsible to pay an additional 5 percent.
The proposed budget was put together under the assumption that the three counties increase their contributions by 5 percent over 1987-88, adding $23,000 in revenue. That difference instead will come from adjusting salaries of professional staff members.
Utah County Commissioner Brent Morris said he doesn't think it fair to increase funding when taxpayers feel that their money has been wasted in recent years at the center.
A legislative audit report released in April found that Timp officials had misused more than $3.5 million in funds during a four-year period.
Dangerfield said: "In my opinion you have not been getting what you need in the three counties. I don't believe the mental health services are anywhere near appropriate.
"The tragedy is not just the abuse and waste of money, but the neglect of people who legitimately need services."
Utah County Commissioner Malcolm Beck said: "I doubt you'll see any more money from public entities until the center gets the legal problems out of its hair. It does not look good to the public to add money to funds that have been stolen out of."
The 1988-89 budget is $800,000 less than this fiscal year's budget, but a large part of the reduction comes from dropping the center's acute care, forensic services and the Carousel youth home in Clearfield.
"I'm pleased with it (the budget)," Beck said. "It's been well done and explains itself. It's going to be a real asset in elected officials' hands. They are really reporting where funds come from and where they spend them. That responsibility is a real asset. More information will be available to the public. We can take the budget and explain it to them. We've never been able to do that."
Dangerfield said the intern management team developed the budget to address the administrative and clinical problems at the center and to improve care at the three-county area.
By providing more readily available services in all three counties, staffing more professionals, providing inpatient care and more access to services, he expects better services in the area.
The idea of adding professional staff to the center came after an interim management study found that there was a shortage of trained, licensed mental health professionals at the center.
"Thirty to 35 percent of the Timp Mental Health staff is underqualified," Dangerfield said. "Through a process of transition, we will move from a lower-credential staff to a higher-credential staff."
He said most changes will come through attrition, but in critical areas where professional staff must be hired, some Timp employees will be replaced if they are not qualified for the job.
The staff changes will occur over the next six months to one year.
Dangerfield said he will try to change personnel cautiously, without disrupting patients.
The chairman of the authority board, Utah County Commissioner Gary Anderson, said Timp employees are "hard-working people, and we need to take every opportunity to make it an easy transition for them. We need to be loyal to them through this tough time."