Health dept. faces cuts

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The Northern Kentucky District Health Department, which includes Grant County, is facing a $1.3 million budget deficit.

Proposals to fix the budget include laying off 17 district employees, furlough days and no raises. Officials are unsure how the budget shortfall will impact the health department’s programs.

Seventeen employees of the Northern Kentucky Health Department may be out of a job due to budget cuts and it’s unsure if programs will be impacted by a budget deficit.

The district’s executive committee was given two options including the layoff of 17 employees, continuing a salary freeze for everyone for the third straight year and possible furloughs of employees in order to balance the department’s budget.

Grant County, along with Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties, compose the NKHD.
Dr. Jonathon Rich, a dentist from Williamstown, serves as the chairman of the board.

“It’s still up in the air as far as if any programs will be cut,” said Rich. “We still have a lot of questions and there’s a lot to be figured out.”

Dr. Lynne M. Saddler, the department’s director, outlined the two options for cutting costs in a meeting last week. The proposal will be presented to the district’s board on March 9.

The department has about 190 employees in the four counties. The goal of the cuts is to close the $1.3 million gap between the department’s revenues and expenses.

The options include:
• Option 1: Staff salary freeze, layoffs of 17 positions (including three vacant ones), 12 furlough days for all staff and limited travel. This option would eliminate $1.3 million.
• Option 2: Staff salary freeze, layoffs of 17 positions (including the three vacant ones), no furloughs and less travel. This option would eliminate $840,000, leaving $460,000 which could be taken from reserves.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that we do not want to take away from any program that deals with public health,” Rich said.

He pointed out that in difficult economic times where families are struggling to pay bills and many have lost their jobs and health insurance, the role of the health department takes on an even greater significance.

“A healthy public is our number one goal so that means our programs need to stay strong and our clinics need to stay open,” Rich said.

The board of health meets March 9.