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OUR VIEW: Merger of health districts not good for Huron County

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:52 PM

The Huron County General Health District is asking voters in November to pass a levy to fund a new dental clinic as well as a new location for the health department.

The 10-year, nonrenewable, 0.3 mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home in Huron County $9.19 per year and generate $276,560 annually for a total of $2.79 million.

Dr. Roger D. Stine, D.D.S., and his wife, Denise Stine, CPA, live in Norwalk and are suggesting Huron and Erie counties combine their efforts to save money.

"... if both counties need to comply with the accreditation standards in order to keep their funding and both counties have a huge need for dental care why don't we 'play nice together, save everyone some money and truly offer those in need the treatment and facilities that they so crave?'" Stine wrote in a Visiting Viewpoint to the Reflector on Aug. 15. "How ... let's pool our tax dollars, purchase facilities at the under-utilized outlet mall of U.S. 250 and operate a two-county HD. The cost of the services provided to patients could be split between the counties based on actual usage by their perspective residence ..."

Tim Hollinger, administrator of the Huron County General Health District, responded in a Visiting Viewpoint on Wednesday, saying the merger is not a good idea.

"...The merger of two county dental clinics, let alone two county health departments, leads to the problem of fair and equitable administration of tax dollars for the services of the less populated county," Hollinger wrote. "This fairness issue becomes exaggerated when you consider the driving distance from the southern part of Huron County to the shared facility.

"... Funding for a new building is more than the board of health is willing to ask the citizens of Huron County to pay for. The building constructed in 1986 has been very well maintained. The proposed building is located on the south side of Executive Drive, which is zoned commercial and fully utilized by physician and dental offices already. The time required to drive from the south side of Norwalk to the north side of Norwalk is approximately 10 minutes depending on traffic. Dr. Stine was correct when he stated that 'Huron County is not just Norwalk.' This was one of the reasons that the health department is looking at the southern side of the city for a new location."

We agree with Hollinger. It's tough enough already for residents of southern Huron County to get to Norwalk, let alone Avery and the old outlet mall. We just went through this with Erie County's proposal for a new regional airport at NASA Plumbrook. To make that idea fly, the Norwalk-Huron County Airport would have to surrender its FAA certification.

Huron County doesn't need to be giving anything away. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. There are many needy people in this county and we must keep the health clinic and the FAA-certified airport, for that matter right here in Norwalk.

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