If their choice of a consultant who lives in North Carolina but who is a former county employee is any indication, the government leaders responsible for appointing members to the Trumbull County Board of Health should review their selections.
Health board member Pat DiTommaso said he has concerns that Rocky Riviella, former controller / administrator for the county Highway Engineer's Office who has since retired and moved to North Carolina, serves as a regularly paid accounting and human resources consultant for the Health Department. He wants Health Commissioner James Enyeart to replace Riviella with a local accountant by October.
Much, perhaps even all, of Riviella's work can be done electronically, meaning he could live anywhere. But DiTommaso's first question should have been why the Health Department doesn't use Trumbull County Auditor Adrian Biviano when they need accounting advice and Trumbull County Personnel and Risk Management Director James Keating when they need human resources guidance. Both are already compensated by county taxpayers.
If the work is too voluminous or too complex for the county, then DiTommaso's concern - about a value being placed on hiring somebody who is more geographically connected to the community - becomes legitimate. Sending up more red flags is that Riviella is a former county employee. That leaves an appearance of favoritism, especially since there is no indication that anybody else's credentials were evaluated.
But the problem is greater than Riviella's place of residence. It's the board's reluctance to use county services or the board's failure to adequately shop around. When DiTommaso raised the issue during a board meeting recently, nobody knew how much Riviella was being paid or for how long his contract will be in effect.
The most recent contract the Health Department could locate was for the 2010 calendar year. It calls for Riviella to be paid $750 per month for financial consulting plus an unspecified hourly rate for consulting services related to labor relations including contract bargaining, arbitrations and personnel.
For the Health Board, DiTommaso included, to be so unaware of how they are spending taxpayer money makes one wonder what other waste may be occurring there.
The five board members are appointed by the Trumbull County Health District Advisory Council, which consists of one representative from each township, village and city in the county's general health district. All townships, villages and cities in the county except Warren, Niles and Girard are included.
Those who appoint are ultimately responsible for how the health board is spending taxpayer dollars. They should not appoint and forget. They should follow up with how their chosen representatives are handling the job. Now would be a good time to evaluate.