Journal-Advocate (Sterling)

Proposal to fund behavioral health provider weighed

- By Jeff Rice Journal-advocate Staff Writer

The Logan County Commission­ers took under advisement Tuesday a request to help fund two fulltime positions for a Sterling behavioral health provider.

Michelle Mccauley, owner of New Pathways to Wellness and Recovery, presented a plan to the commission­ers that would provide two full-time counselors for New Pathways. Dave Long, Director of Human Services for Logan County, endorsed the plan and said a funding contract could be structured that would limit county support for Mccauley’s business to a start- up period.

Mccauley said that, unlike government-supported agencies that have taxpayer- supported budgets, her company must rely

largely on Medicaid payments, and those are irregular at best. New Pathways counselors aren’t employees, but have their own businesses they are trying to build.

“It’s almost like a business within a business, and while I’ve been trying to expand our operation and save enough to start paying salaries, we’re just not there,” she said.

When a counselor does successful­ly build a clientele, they tend to part ways with New Pathways and go out on their own. Mccauley said she needs a way to attract two fulltime employees with a decent salary and benefits so they will stay and help her build her business. That would cost between $ 216,000 and $ 250,000 for two years. Mccauley is asking for $ 81,360 for two years, while she would provide the remaining $ 20,340.

Long told the commission­ers COVID recovery funds are available to provide such a grant for two years, which should give Mccauley time to establish a reliable revenue flow and retain her two counselors.

“We could structure the contract so that, once she becomes sustainabl­e, we ( ratchet) the funding down until it ends,” Long said.

The commission­ers appeared receptive to Mccauley’s proposal. Commission­er Jane Bauder said Mccauley’s success is important to the community.

“You’re filling a void we desperatel­y need to fill, and we need you to succeed,” Bauder said.

The commission­ers will study Mccauley’s proposal and, after working with County Attorney Alan Samber, hope to have an agreement they can vote on in the near future.

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