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Erie County Health Department budget rises about 8 percent

By Tandem Media Network • Dec 6, 2018 at 6:00 PM

SANDUSKY — The Erie County Health Department’s budget is slated to increase by about 8 percent in 2019, fueled by a 45-percent jump in federal funding.

The new budget builds on the department’s previous success in snaring an increased amount of federal funds in the last few years.

The department’s 2018 budget was about $11.8 million. It’s scheduled to increase to about $12.8 million, a roughly 8.5-percent increase, in 2019 under a budget OK’d last week by the county health board.

Salaries at the health department will go up about 11 percent, to about $5.4 million.

Some of that hike is a pay increase, 2 percent for most employees, just approved by the health board, but most of it is paying for new jobs created by new programs paid for by the additional federal money, said Joe Palmucci, chief financial officer for the health department.

Federal funding, in addition to Medicaid and Medicare, is expected to increase by about 45 percent from 2018 to 2019.

That includes a rural health opioid grant the health department received in 2018, $250,000 a year for a total of $750,000 over three years; a $490,000 first responders grant; and a hike of about $200,000 in funding for the Erie County Community Health Center.

Local revenues for the health department are largely flat. They include fees and local tax levies, instead relying on getting more federal and state money to pay for new services.

The health department has sought renewal levies for years and has not sought tax increases.

The department asked Erie County Commissioners to put a renewal levy on the ballot last fall, but due to an apparent mix-up, the levy did not make it to the ballot. Erie County Commissioners are expected to move forward next month to get the levy on the ballot in 2019, said Pete Schade, Erie County’s health commissioner.

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