Rohrer, president of the Logan County Board of Health, wanted to
know why they had received no indication that the health department
would not be receiving funding this year. The health board sent its
request as usual.
finance committee] didn't tell us that we weren't going to get our
$349,000 that we had anticipated, he said. This did not give us a
chance to rework our budget. "[They] were very silent in the whole
process," he said. "I find that unusual in an environment where we
should be working together."
The health department was
established in 1970 by a county vote. As a referendum-based
department, its funding is stipulated under state statute. Rohrer
supplied copies of the pertinent state laws found under county code.
He said he believes the intent is clearly stated that the county is
obligated by statute to levy the tax and pass it through to the
health department to spend according to the health department
In summary it says, "Any county that
establishes and maintains a health department shall levy
annually a tax not to exceed .1 percent of taxable property, and
that shall be paid into the county treasury and used only for the
purpose of the county health fund." This statement includes state
requirements established since 1937 to supply tuberculosis
In a post-meeting interview Rohrer
said that the amount requested this year was based on 0.1 percent of
the assessed property taxes in the county, met with consumer price
index increases and was just over last year's amount.
While most programs at the health
department are funded by state, federal and some private grants,
such as from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, it is the
county funds that keep the doors open. The funds are used for
day-to-day operations such as building costs, staff, public health
inspections and services, and some programs.
Dale Voyles, county board chairman,
made the following clarifying statement: There are no funds
being taken from the health department budget. There's no revenue
for that fund. So they will be having to use their reserves, just as
we are using ours, and depleting reserves until the next budget.
We're not actually taking any funds that they have currently from
Voyles also reminded everyone that
all committee meetings, including the budget meetings, which took
place the end of August, were open to the public and all departments
were invited to attend them.
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The health department has $500,000
in reserves for emergencies.
County board member David Hepler
asked for examples of the types of emergencies this would be used
Ruben responded that tuberculosis
has become a more of a problem in today's world and a constant
awareness of terrorism.
Health department administrator Mark
Hilliard provided more specific details. Active cases of TB
currently cost between $5,000 and $7,000 each. He cited that
currently Sangamon County has 10 of those -- the most they've had in
decades, he said. If we were to have a TB case where the person
developed antibody resistance tuberculosis, you're looking at
$100,000 a case, he said.
Another type of situation another
jurisdiction recently had to handle was cited. A food handler with
hepatitis A infected 43 other people. All of their close contacts,
almost 2,000, had to be vaccinated. It cost that health department
Finance chairman Chuck Ruben said
that he couldn't address the legal aspect of the issue. The finance
committee worked with their accountants, Sikich Gardner, who work
with other counties as well, and they approved it. The question has
been turned over to the state's attorney for his opinion. They are
waiting for his response, Ruben said.
Because the cut to the health
department budget forces them to dip into their reserve fund, which
is intended for emergency use, the board has planned an alternative
that may supply emergency funding if needed. A motion is ready for
approval next Thursday to add a letter to the budget of the health
department stating that they would try to implement a bond in an
emergency situation. Statute 55ILCS 5/6-11001 allows the county to
issue bonds under a different levy, Ruben said.
The county board is scheduled to
vote on the new budget next Thursday, Nov. 18. The meeting begins at