Health commissioner explains levy request

(Posted Sept. 27, 2019)

By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer

Madison County Health Commissioner Chris Cook attended the Mount Sterling village council meeting Sept. 23 to talk about the levy the county health department has on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

Madison County-London City Health District, as it will appear on the ballot, is asking for a 1-mill renewal levy with an additional 0.15 mills for the next five years. The additional millage may seem like an odd amount, Cook said, but it is the exact amount needed for the department to function.

If approved, the levy will cost homeowners $11.04 in taxes per half year on a house valued at $100,000.

The health department serves the entire county by providing over 60 essential services, Cook said. These services include investigating illness outbreaks, providing nurses for the school systems, water testing, birth certificates, restaurant inspections and immunizations.

Besides these traditional services, the health department has grown to keep pace with the needs of a changing society, and now includes programs dealing with bioterrorism response, the resurgence of “old school” diseases such as measles, vector-borne viruses such West Nile and Zika, as well as the opioid epidemic.

The department receives no money from the county commissioners, Cook said. Beyond the levy, Madison County relies heavily on grants.

“Forty percent of our budget is federal and state grants,” he said.

Despite having made staffing cuts and other budgetary constraints, the health department needs the support of the county’s voters if it is to continue providing residents with the quality and necessary care they have come to expect, Cook said.

“Needs have outgrown our capacity,” he explained.

During the business portion of the meeting, village council approved a measure authorizing the village administrator to assume the powers of a chief of police when it comes to functions deemed necessary to provide safe flow of traffic in the village.

Council also adopted a resolution declaring the parking lot at 16 S. London St. and Deacon Way as available for public use.

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