Jackson County health leaders are bracing for potential cuts in state funding next year.

The Jackson County Board of Health approved its $1.39 million budget for Fiscal Year 2021 during a conference call meeting on May 12.

REVENUES

Overall, revenues are expected to decrease two percent, from $1.42 million this year to $1.39 million in FY21.

The largest decrease is expected in grant-in-aid state funding — down 14-percent from $526,700 to $452,980. About 30-percent of the department’s funding comes from the state. (The remainder comes from: Fees 30 percent; county, 20 percent; and other miscellaneous revenue sources.)

Other projected decreases include Medicaid and federal COVID-19 funds. The department is receiving somewhere between $15,000-$18,000 in federal funding in FY2020 to help offset salary costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the budget update, district administrator Emily Eisenman said she wasn’t sure if that funding would be continued in FY21.

Meanwhile, the prior year’s fee income has jumped 12 percent, from $376,400 to $420,000. Eisenman said the department had a “strong year” in fees, but it could feel the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown in the FY2022 budget.

The budget also shows a $21,000 fund balance (reserves) at the end of FY2020. That fund balance comes from a 4 percent state budget cut that was restored when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

EXPENSES

The budget shows a slight decrease (one percent) in expenses, bring the total expenses to $1.39 million.

While personnel and related benefits all show an increase, there’s a huge budgeted decrease for other operating expenses (down 46 percent from $34,500 to $18,800) and repairs and maintenance expenses (down 40 percent from 25,000 to $15,000).

HAZARD PAY FOR FY2020

The projected federal COVID-19 funding will be used towards hazard pay for employees during FY2020.

“(We’re) looking at employees who have come to work day-in and day-out, whether they’ve been with the health department or they’ve been working at our testing sites,” said Eisenman. “We will be paying an additional $250 per pay period to each employee who has come into the office, not missed work and that sort of thing.”

The hazard pay policy will be implemented for pay periods starting in mid-March through June 30.

It's expected to cost the health department between $18,000-$19,000.

OTHER BUSINESS

Also at its meeting, the board received the following updates:

•Environmental health — Keli Hinson noted the department is maintaining a steady pace on septic permits being issued. Hinson also informed the board that the department has noticed an increase in septic failures, which she attributed to increased use due to residents staying home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

•State efforts — interim district health director Stephen Goggans said the Department of Public Health is heavily focused on testing and contact tracing. He said the state has ramped up testing over the past couple of weeks, and the results will tell more about the state of COVID-19 in Georgia. The testing initiative will also generate more positive cases since more people are being tested, Goggans said. The state has opened up the criteria for those who can be tested, allowing anyone who wants to be tested to do so.

•Staff update — the health department continues to offer essential services and has implemented a variety of safety precautions for staff and clients.

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