Dr. James Yonai asked the Madison County Board of Supervisors Social and Mental Health Services Committee to allow three staffers to travel to Atlanta, Ga. The request came just weeks after an out-of-town travel request by the Madison County Sheriff's Office was shot down and at about the same time the governor's office announced 6-percent across-the-board budget cuts.
Yonai said one of his staff was paying for the entire cost of travel, conference and accommodations himself and asking only for the time off. He said he wanted to send two others on the county's dime.
The training is a specialty program in the field of treatment of sex offenders.
"Any reason one can't come back and inform others?" asked Supervisor James Goldstein (D,C,I -- Lebanon). "It's hard to imagine the impact of having three people out of the office at same time."
Goldstein said he was not questioning whether the training is useful, only the logistics of the short-staffing.
"I question whether we can afford to have three people out of the office simultaneously," Goldstein said.
Yonai said the doctor attending and paying out of his own pocket would be able to come back and train others in the department.
Goldstein said the county couldn't be too cautious in pinching pennies right now. At the same meeting, Dep. Director Karolyn Sayles reported the Mental Health Department's budget realized a $130,000 error due to a billing and bookkeeping snafu.
"You don't have hard numbers," Goldstein said the department's current budget status. "We don't know what the [state] budget's going to look like, and you may need that money."
Yonai pulled the other two travel requests.
The remaining request for time off for the conference was unanimously approved by the four members of the committee present. The matter will move to the full Board of Supervisors Oct. 14.