Tuesday, July 13, 2010
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Logan County Board of Health briefs: Programs stay in spite of state funding delays; and more

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[July 13, 2010]  Monday the Logan County Board of Health met for its regularly scheduled business meeting and voting session. The board meets every other month at the Logan County Department of Public Health building.

The board consists of eight voting members plus Mark Hilliard, health department administrator; Margie Harris, assistant administrator; and Sally Gosda, director of finance.

For this month's meeting, five members of the board were present: Todd Walker, vice president; Mike Rohrer, secretary-treasurer; Dr. Paul Kasa, medical adviser; Maxine Lolling; and Dr. Richard Bivin.

The topic of greatest concern was the financial condition of the agency. There was also a discussion concerning public properties that pose public health concerns in the county.

Gosda discusses finances

The county health department relies heavily on grants and reimbursements from the state of Illinois for the funding of its daily operations.

Like every other state-funded entity in Illinois, the local agency is feeling the bite of the state's inability to pay its obligations and therefore is running with a serious cash deficit.

Gosda reported that as of the end of June, the agency is in the red to the tune of $588,000.

While programs are operating within their budgets, lack of payment from the state means that the agency is paying its obligations from the general fund with very little money coming into it.

Gosda reported that the agency had received some payments in June, including $31,600 from the Local Health Protection Grant. She explained that this is funding that is normally received in late December or early January, meaning the state is about six months behind in making that payment.

In addition, the agency received a $27,000 reimbursement for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. However, Gosda noted that the money received was reimbursement due from October of 2009.

Finally, she reported a receipt of $13,000 for the Family Case Management program, and she said that in total the funding received came to approximately $90,000, leaving the agency $63,000 in the hole for the month of June.

When the board held a special meeting in June, one of the programs they were most concerned about was the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. The board heard then that the program was not receiving its reimbursements, but in addition there had been no indication as of that date that the state would continue to fund the program.

Monday night Gosda said that the health department had received a one-page summary of funding for the year that did include the IBCCP.

The Illinois Department of Human Services grant that covers WIC, Teen Parent Services, HealthWorks and Family Case Management has been awarded for the coming year, but Gosda noted that overall the funding decreased by just over $2,000.

HealthWorks is the second program that was an issue at the special meeting in June. Gosda noted that this program was listed in the DHS grant, but that the county department had also heard from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services that they will be taking over that funding, which will be a plus for the local agency.

Harris noted that this means that 75 percent of the funding for HealthWorks will come from the federal level, which equates to a better pay schedule. She said that payments on the grant would be made quarterly, which should help that program run more smoothly.

Hilliard reports on recent changes in the state comptroller's office

The state of Illinois runs on a fiscal year of July 1 through June 30. According to its own laws, once the fiscal year closes, the comptroller's office has 60 days to settle all the old accounts.

Generally speaking this means that agencies such as the county health department have known in the past that even if the state is running behind, they have to get caught up by the end of August each year.

However, the state recently extended its own grace period for covering old obligations to the end of the calendar year.

Hilliard read excerpts from an e-newsletter he'd received from the administrators association late last week.

In summary, the newsletter warned that because the state has extended its own grace period, the odds of any new fiscal year money being paid before January of 2011 are highly unlikely.

It is also highly unlikely that any of the old obligations will be settled in a timely fashion.

Hilliard said that as he had predicted at the special meeting in June, this means that the state is going to continue falling further behind in its payments as it uses new fiscal year revenues to pay past year obligations.

He also noted that this was going to make local support such as tax payments from the county all that much more important for the daily operations of the department.

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Health department assists county in cleaning up problem properties

It was observed in March that some of the problem properties in the unincorporated areas of the county fall under the county's junkyard ordinance. Will D'Andrea, Logan County's zoning officer, identified that the ordinance had a lot of health department language in its definitions for enforcement and jurisdiction, inspection and penalties. There is a renewed attempt under way to clean up these problem properties.

Many of these nuisance properties have an environmental violation aspect. As such, the health department's director of environmental health, Don Cavi, was asked in April to participate in attempting to get property owners to clean up these properties. Cavi's duties include issuing citations for county ordinance violations as they pertain to public health and safety.

The Logan County Board's liaison, David Hepler, was absent from the Monday night meeting of the Board of Health, and Hilliard relayed information from Hepler.

When the county board's planning and zoning committee met earlier this month, Hepler had heard from Cavi. According to Hepler, Cavi has issued some citations and sent e-mails to the state's attorney's office, but no response about the status of those citations has been received.

Hepler asked Hilliard to follow through with this issue and discuss it with the board members present.

Hilliard read from the Illinois State Code a portion that said it was the duty of the state's attorney to prosecute health code violations in a timely manner.

He said that Hepler had suggested that the next step should be a letter to the attorney, Michael McIntosh, expressing the concerns of the board on this issue.

Hilliard asked for approval to put together such a letter and received the full support of the board.

Other health department news

Harris reported that a $19,000 immunization grant that was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is nearing its completion with funds remaining. She has requested and received permission to use the remaining funds for the purchase of a vaccine cooler unit.

She said that this cooler, coupled with a large refrigerator that was purchased with H1N1 funding, will replace three old refrigerators previously used in the Lincoln facility.

The board also went through a revision of the personnel policies for health department employees. Hilliard told the board that the majority of the work had focused on clearing up the language and clarifying certain portions of the policy.

He went through the new document with the board, noting clarifications in flextime policy, overtime policy and dress code as well as minor changes in the grievance procedure and a change in meal reimbursement policy for local travel.


Hilliard also reported that the Illinois Project for Local Assessment of Needs is still under construction.

Kristi Melton, a Logan County native currently studying for her master's in public health at the University of Illinois Springfield, facilitated meetings of the Community Health Committee earlier this year and is currently compiling information, which will be ready for submission to the State Board of Health later this fall.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Logan County Board of Health is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, anyone who is interested in attending these meetings is invited to do so.


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