Washington County Board of Health wrestling with budget woes

MARIETTA – Washington County’s Board of Health continued to deal with financial issues facing the county health department and Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic during the board’s monthly meeting Tuesday.

Board president Richard Daniell said recommended changes at the dental clinic would help keep that facility operational.

“Representatives from the clinic met with (interim county health commissioner) Dick Wittberg on Feb. 1, and developed a list of items that should improve revenue by $60,000, to offset the loss of $59,000 this year,” he said.

A traditional $59,000 state grant was not awarded the dental clinic this year, due to cuts in federal funding to the state health department.

Among the dental clinic changes approved by the health board Tuesday were the reduction of paid lunch for staff from one hour to a half-hour, and charging a $25 rescheduling fee to clients who don’t show up for an appointment without first giving 24-hours notice.

“This is a great step forward to give the dental clinic staff what they need to get on a better financial footing,” Daniell said.

Also on Tuesday, Daniell announced the health department budget is $2,800 short of the amount needed to make the Feb. 22 payroll. That’s an improvement over last month when Daniell had to ask the Washington County commissioners for advance funding to meet the first payroll of the year.

The monthly payroll is about $64,000 for the 19 employees of the health department and dental clinic.

Environmental health director and interim health administrator Ken Robinson recommended another way for the board to increase health department revenue would be a plumbing consultation fee.

He said business owners may consult with the health department’s commercial plumbing inspector, Bryson Wakely, about what they need to comply with the county’s commercial plumbing requirements.

“We already have a $50 fee in place for sewer consultation, and there should be a fee in place for commercial plumbing consultations,” Robinson said.

The board members agreed and approved the charging of a $50 commercial plumbing consultation fee, effective immediately.