Renewal levy on the poll for Sandusky County Public Well being

A renewal of the levy for the Sandusky County Public Well being division is on the poll for the Nov. 7 election.

The proposed tax levy is for a renewal of the 5-year, 0.5 mill levy. If accepted, it will begin in 2024 and will likely be collected beginning in 2025. The annual value to a property proprietor can be $15 for every $100,000 of the county auditor’s appraised worth. The estimated worth, as decided by the county auditor, to the Sandusky County Mixed Common Well being District would end in a set of $711,000 yearly.

Bethany Brown, director of the Sandusky County Public Well being division, mentioned that the collected funds aren’t their solely supply of funding. Their funds is greater than six instances the dimensions of the levy. In addition they recieve grants and costs for varied providers. This levy cash would go into the division’s common fund.

“We’re one of many smallest levies within the county. I believe 911 is smaller than us,” Brown mentioned “We’ve got run on the 0.5-mill levy for near 40 years, with out a rise. I believe that exhibits that we’re actually good stewards of our cash.”

Public well being covers a variety of applications

The well being division does greater than well being training. It additionally gives nursing, house visiting, the WIC program, clinics, environmental providers and certificates for births and deaths.

She identified that there’s usually some confusion with what it does, due to the title of one among its divisions, the Environmental Division.

“That’s meals inspections, water, sewer, nuisance complaints and tattoo parlors. We additionally do rabies, like canine bites, bats, raccoons, cats, you title it. We get no cash for that. It is an unfunded mandate. We name it the Board of Well being fund, which is the levy {dollars}. It covers these prices, however then we even have overhead: hire, provides, copy machine and people kinds of utilities.”

The county not too long ago paid for a brand new HVAC system, however the division nonetheless has to pay for its telephones and web.

The 2022 Annual Report confirmed 4,044 immunizations, 530 flu vaccines and 1,579 COVID-19 vaccines administered, together with 642 doses of the bivalent booster. Different statistics confirmed reported circumstances of communicable ailments, that well being division nurses offered providers to 227 kids within the Kids with Medical Handicap diagnostic, remedy and/or service coordination program, and that of 154 tuberculosis pores and skin exams there have been no constructive circumstances discovered.

Well being funding is difficult

Brown defined that utilizing grant cash may be troublesome.

“Grants will solely allow you to pay for sure issues, and never different issues,” she mentioned. “So it is form of a balancing act, as we work with what’s coated and what’s not.”

Brown defined a number of the uncommon pandemic-related swings in budgeting, income and bills that the well being division has needed to cope with previously yr, which has additionally included some new unfunded mandates. This yr is an anomaly.

“The best way public well being works, it is both feast or famine,” Brown mentioned. “We’re normally simply breaking even.”

The 2022 fiscal yr had revenues of $4.5 million and bills of $3.34 million, for which she urged warning in considering that the division was flush with cash.

She mentioned it is doable that the following fiscal yr it may have extra bills than income.

“Our revenues this previous yr, with the overages, that was because of COVID. We obtained extra {dollars} for the COVID response. We additionally obtained extra monies from the (county commissioners), which was the American Rescue Plan {dollars},” Brown mentioned. “We additionally obtained some new grants this yr. Sure, we did obtain the income, however we have not expensed it but. This subsequent yr, it is going to be manner nearer than what’s proven right here.”

She gave the instance of 2019.

“In 2019, our carryover was $100,000. We weren’t certain how we had been going to pay our invoice till we obtained our levy, then, guess what? COVID hit,” Brown mentioned. “It wasn’t like we had been simply handed cash. I needed to write 12 grants to get that cash, after which they had been earmarked for sure functions. They could not be used only for something.”

A few of the restrictions led to cash being misplaced, as a result of the foundations modified through the allotted intervals of time the well being division was allowed to spend the cash, and the division was not arrange for utilizing the cash within the new required manner.

“It was madness,” Brown mentioned, shaking her head.