By Marcy Stamper
Okanogan County’s new, seven-member Board of Health approved a draft budget and a fee schedule with no increases for next year at their first meeting on Nov. 10.
The three new board members appointed by the county commissioners early this month all attended the meeting. The new members are as follows:
• Mariann Williams, a nurse practitioner who specializes in family medicine at the Oroville Clinic of Confluence Health, was appointed to a four-year term representing medical/environmental health.
• Larry Zimmerlund, of Methow Engineering, who has designed on-site septic systems and community water systems in Okanogan County for over 20 years, was appointed to a two-year term representing the industry.
• Steve Varrelman, a licensed installer of septic systems with BTO Construction, an excavating contractor in Pateros, was also appointed to a two-year term representing the industry.
Laurie Morgan, a licensed septic installer and pumper and an owner of Morgan & Son Excavation and Septic Service in Okanogan, was the only other applicant.
The commissioners expanded the board last month from six to seven members to include one representative of the medical or environmental health community, and two representatives from an industry related to public health. Industry representatives could have included someone from the food-service sector, but no one from that field applied.
The four existing board members are the three county commissioners and Oroville City Council member Neysa Roley. There were two vacancies after job changes of other board members made them ineligible to serve.
The draft Public Health budget asks for $135,000 in funding from the county, a $15,000 increase over last year, according to Lauri Jones, community health director. Overall, the budget is $73,000 less than last year’s, because the district’s administrative coordinator retired and has not been replaced, and because of an expected reduction in the solid-waste grant from the state, said Jones.
The budget has to be adopted by the county commissioners. “It’s a draft budget, but it’s pretty solid,” said Jones.
Public Health has also been able to lower the rent it pays the county by consolidating operations in a smaller space.
The Public Health reserve account is at $45,000, on track to be at $50,000 by the end of the year. That was the target set by the county commissioners after the health district withdrew $100,000 last year to cover expenses, leaving only $5,000 in the fund. The account was replenished through staff furlough days, which are no longer required, said Jones.
The commissioners began to scrutinize finances and operations at Public Health after the large withdrawal from the reserve fund. Other issues revolved around the Board of Health, both regarding the number of members and the geographic and professional sectors they represent. The board oversees Public Health functions.
The more stable financial condition and new board have been encouraging. “I felt it was a very productive meeting,” said Jones.