County budget cuts hit the Jasper County Health Department with a deduction of more than $70,000, eliminating funding for an assistant position in the environmental health department.
JCHD Director Becky Pryor told the Jasper County Board of Health on Friday she was notified the funding was being cut from the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget, leaving the department without a back up for director Kevin Luetters.
The assistant position, which was created to work with Luetters and serve as his back up, has never been filled but was a high priority for the department given Luetters is the only staff member trained in environmental health.
“My concern is, we are going to talk after the budget is approved because if we ever have to have a back up for Kevin there is no funding in there for a sub-contract and a 28E agreement, there is no room at all for any leeway,” Pryor said.
The JCHD budget was presented to the supervisors of Jan. 30, with 90 percent of the costs going to salary and benefits. Supervisor and new board of health member Joe Brock said as a county they saw a 13 percent increase in health insurance totaling more than $350,000 and about $250,000 in additional salary costs due to a 2.9 percent increase given to county employees.
After receiving the news of the funds being eliminated from the budget, board chair Margot Voshell said he asked Pryor to contact neighboring counties about a possible partnership to back up Jasper County. Pryor reported both Marion and Poweshiek Counties declined the request.
“Marion County said they have two full time people ant that they were too busy to back us up,” Pryor said. “Poweshiek said only in an extreme emergency he could back us up to do a sanitation septic visit.”
Brock mentioned an idea that was discussed previously by the board that would have Planning and Zoning Community Development Director Nick Fratzke serve as a back up for Luetters and vis versa for Fratzke, who also does not have a backup. The board thought it could explore the option in case an emergency situation should arise.
Voshell also questioned Brock about how cuts were made to the budget.
“Is the county, obviously we want to be respectful for budgets and help as a department in any way we can, did the county look at budgets and say of the total package of all of the budgets submitted from all of the different departments we are going to cut “X” from each department, Voshel said. “Did you look at it globally?”
Brock said the board looked at the whole things and pulled here and there from areas that made sense. He also cited reduced state funding as a reason for the cuts.
“We’re having to make up for that along with the backfill from the commercial property taxes, which is $1.2 million that we will no longer get,” Brock said.
The board of supervisors is scheduled to approve the FY 18-19 budget, including the JCHD portion, at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org