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Health District split won't be finalized by Jan. 18

HEALTH DISTRICT SPLIT.jpg
Posted at 6:13 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 19:25:33-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — While time is running out before the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District is officially split, that separation won’t be complete as soon as originally announced.

That split, tentatively scheduled Jan. 18, takes effect in a little more than a month.

One thing county officials have wanted since the split was announced has been more time to prepare. It looks like that wish will be granted.

“It is unlikely that we’re going to transition everything over to the city on the 18th of January,” said Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni.

Zanoni says some health-district programs will immediately transition to the new city health department, while others will take time.

“What we have pledged is there will be no interruption of service,” Zanoni said.

“We all want the same thing, to make sure the people we serve are taken care of,” said Pct. 4 county commissioner Brent Chesney.

Chesney says the county has three concerns when it comes to the split.

“We don’t want to waste taxpayer dollars, we want to make sure the employees are taken care of, and we want to make sure people we that we serve are well-served and have uninterrupted service,” Chesney said.

On Tuesday, Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales visited Corpus Christi City Council asking for an additional six months before splitting the health district.

“I'm here to ask you for one simple thing,” Canales said to council members. “Six months, and maybe we can do it faster, but six months we can address (the rest of the county)."

The split leaves the county with options: form its own health department, form a new district with another entity, or contract with the city. With roughly 90 percent of the county’s population inside cthe Corpus Christi city limits, Chesney feels contracting with the city is the most financially feasible.

“We need to act like the small partner that we are because they’re the $1.5 billion budget and we’re the $100 million budget,” Chesney said.

The city is apparently receptive to the idea.

“It may be a good model, it’s a model in fact that’s used in Amarillo,” said Zanoni, who added that virtually nothing is off the negotiating table at this point.

“We’re going to negotiate in good faith with the county and make sure what we end up with as two partners is hopefully the right outcome for the community,” Zanoni said.

The city hopes to have a more definitive plan in place by its holiday break next week.