County Health Department hit with 25 percent budget cuts from State

200px-Map_of_West_Virginia_highlighting_Greenbrier_County.svgBy Peggy Mackenzie

An update on the financial health of the Greenbrier County Health Department, was provided at the Tuesday Greenbrier County Commission meeting by Ashley Butler, administrative services manager, revealed that the state legislature has made a first-time 25 percent funding cut to health departments across the state. For Greenbrier County, that amounts to $75,000, 11 percent of the health department’s overall budget. Butler said she is hoping Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will exercise his veto power on this bill. If the 25 percent cut holds, some county health departments won’t be able to provide services, Butler said.

Butler had addressed this concern at a previous commission meeting in December 2015, stating she anticipated a worst-case cut of 5 to 10 percent. The 25 percent cut is a “substantial hit,” she said. In looking ahead, the health department is pushing to educate legislators to institute regional departments by combining services across two or more counties in order to stretch the declining funding. This would be a real change, providing county commission with more authority. She said they will know more by the end of March what the actual amount of funding will be.

Butler said establishing a “hub center,” preferably in Greenbrier County, serving a minimum of 100,000 population, may include Monroe, Pocahontas, Nicholas, and Summers counties.

In other business:

• Commission President Mike McClung moved to withdraw the offer the commission made at the January meeting to settle the pending litigation between the county and New River Community and Technical College Foundation. That motion failed 1-2, with the other commissioners opposing McClung. Instead, Commissioner Woody Hanna proposed to set a time limit to allow the college time to consider the $150,000 offer. Commissioner Lowell Rose agreed and moved to allow the college until March 1 to respond to the county’s offer. That motion passed 2-1, with McClung opposing.

• Tanya Huber and Laura Legg, both with the Greenbrier County Day Report Center, presented a request from the community corrections board to make Greenbrier County and Pocahontas County a single regional day report center. No services will be lost, they said, and consistency of services is the anticipated outcome. Greenbrier County’s Day Report Center is recognized as top in the state, said Legg.

• Paula Brown, deputy director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, presented the commission with an appraisal request for six possible FEMA buyout properties located in flood-zones in Ronceverte and Lilly Park. The cost for the appraisal to the commission is $600; however, she said, FEMA will cover all other expenses of the demolition and clean up of those properties. The commission approved the expense.

• Brown also requested the commission sign a hazard mitigation grant application for $158,900 to provide 100 percent of the cost for emergency shelter generators for the Rainelle Fire Department, the Rupert Community Center and the Clintonville Volunteer Fire Department/Community Center. She said Quinwood is next in line for a trailer-mounted generator, and the northern quadrant of the county, including the Williamsburg Community Center and the Renick Fire Department, already have shelters and generators.

• The 9-1-1 Dispatch Center was approved to move a part-time employee, Michael McGuire, to fulltime status.

• The commission signed a letter of support to the National Park Service and the West Virginia State Park requesting signage be placed at Sam Black to direct traffic to the Midland Trail and the Meadow River Walking Trail.

• A new hire, Tawnya Brown, was approved for a full-time position in the county clerk’s office.

 

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