The Okanogan County Board of Health has approved a 2018 fee schedule and budget for Public Health.
Fees, which cover things like well-site evaluations, food-handler cards and birth certificates, haven’t changed at all. The budget includes an additional $30,000 to cover a transitional period because three long-time employees are expected to retire next year, said Lauri Jones, the county’s community health director.
The budget increase will most likely be in effect for just one year, said Jones. The employees haven’t officially announced their retirement yet, but the three have 75 years of combined experience and hold key positions, including an individual with fiscal responsibility, she said.
The budget for Public health, as for all departments in the county, is tight, and the staff of 11 is less than half of the staffing level a few years ago, said Jones.
Public Health is still hoping its solid-waste programs will be funded when the state Legislature adopts a capital budget, which Republican lawmakers refused to pass earlier this year in a stand-off over an unrelated water issue. The solid-waste programs cover tire recycling and provide funding to enforce clean-up of garbage on private property that could present a health risk, said Jones.
After a period of increased scrutiny two years ago from the former board of county commissioners over cash-flow issues at Public Health, the county commissioners reorganized the Board of Health. The current board consists of the three county commissioners and representatives of the medical- and environmental-health fields. They’re looking for a city representative to replace the former mayor of Tonasket, who left the board when he was no longer serving as mayor.
“The commissioners are working in the best interests of Public Health” and the new Board of Health has been very responsive, said Jones.