Health dept. preliminary budget shows surplus


The Wood County Health Department’s preliminary budget currently shows revenues exceeding expenses by more than $2 million.

But those numbers may drastically change before the budget is finalized in March as more expenses are allocated.

Finance Director Rick Nelson presented the preliminary budget for 2023 at the Jan. 12 health board meeting.

That budget showed $13.6 million in revenue and $11.91 million in expenses.

A full-detail budget will be available in March, said Ben Robison, health commissioner.

The preliminary budget includes the addition of four new positions approved by the board.

A full-time behavioral health manager, who will be housed in the health center, will be paid $28.80-$40.32 per hour.

A full-time behavioral health specialist, who also will be in the health center, will be paid $25.07-$35.11 hourly.

A full-time administrative assistant, who will be in the health center and support both the health center and finance divisions, will earn an hourly wage of $16.68-$23.36.

A full-time director of health preparedness and promotion will be paid $34.08-$47.62 per hour. This person will lead the HPP division and report to the deputy health commission.

Robison said the health department will move into a quarterly review of its budget.

“Our goal is to capture not only our operational budget but to identify effective uses for those reserve dollars,” he said.

A quarterly update will better enable him to look at what was forecasted and see how things have changed, Nelson said.

“Do we see anything new that’s going on that is going to change how that original budget looked like,” he said.

Robison said not only is a quarterly review good management, it will better allow the tracking of grants, which are awarded quarterly on a fiscal calendar.

Robison said the goal is move the budget timetable up so next year’s budget is in place next January.

He said that the board at the February meeting will address contracts with Biofit, for chairs for department employees, account reserves and building renovations.

Robison said they need to ask employees what is really needed in the renovation and prioritize the results before bringing that information to the board.

“The space has to work for our staff,” Robison said. “We want to hear what they think about it.”

A potential plan to close off the courtyard has not been finalized, he said.

Contractors have said there may not be as much bang for their buck by doing that compared to adding on additional space.

Those options will need to be evaluated, Robison said.

“We are thinking about how best to use our space,” he said.

However, all the major public services – WIC, vital statistics, the health center and environmental health – should be under one roof, Robison said.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Heard member Richard Strow note that substance abuse deaths were down to 24 in the county but was still a high number. He asked what is being done to address these numbers.

Amy Jones, director of health promotion and preparedness, said the department was going to have someone address chronic issues and will begin looking at substance abuse and suicides.

She said the department is waiting for grant funding in order to purchase a Narcan machine.

• Heard Vice President Nilgun Sezginis asked about measles cases in the county. Jones said there was an outbreak in Columbus, but no cases have been reported in Wood County.

• Heard member Bob Midden ask how current vaccines were working to combat the high rates of influenza hospitalizations.

“Our understanding is it’s a really good match,” Robison said about the vaccine in use. “We are just experiencing really high rates.”

Jones said the numbers are coming down.

The window to be vaccinated remains open, Robison said.

“We’re thankful that we’re dealing with just high rates of flu, but we anxious to see those come down to a manageable level,” he said.

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