Health Dept. replacement levy to be decided on by voters

By Sarah Hawley -

Meigs County Health Department staff

Meigs County Health Department staff

POMEROY — The Meigs County Health Department one-mill replacement levy will be one of the three county-wide items voted on by Meigs County voters in the November general election on Nov. 8.

The five-year one-mill levy was approved by voters as a renewal in both 2006 and 2011 according to previous Sentinel reports.

The difference this time is that the levy presented to voters is as a replacement rather than a renewal.

So what is the difference?

A renewal levy, if approved again, continues to generate funds based on the tax value of the property at the time the levy was initially approved by voters. The replacement levy would place the tax amount on the current property value.

A one-mill levy means that a property owner would pay $1 in property tax for every $1,000 of taxable value of the property. So for a property valued at $100,000 the cost would be $100 annually.

The levy was approved to be placed on the ballot by the Meigs County Commissioners during a July meeting.

When considering the tax levy for the health department, Administrator Courtney Midkiff and Health Commissioner Marc Barr spoke of the services that are provided to the residents of Meigs County by the agency.

“Residents benefit from public health from birth to death,” stated Midkiff of the importance of the county health department. There are 17 full and part-time employees at the health department.

Midkiff explained that many of those employees have not received raises since 2010, including cost of living increases. Additionally, as staff have retired, the positions have not been filled, leading to employees “wearing many hats.”

The health department provides many services to residents of Meigs County, whether or not the individual has ever walked through the doors of the building.

Programs provided by the health department through the tax levy, as well as state and federal grants and private sources, include WIC (Women, Infants and Children), public health emergency preparedness, Creating Healthy Communities/Together on Diabetes, child and family health services, children with medical handicaps, environmental services, vital statistics and public health nursing.

The public health nursing portion, in 2015, conducted lead and hemoglobin screenings for preschool children, immunized nearly 1,100 individuals, provided head lice screenings and conducted pregnancy tests. They are also certified in Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone).

The environmental division oversees the licensing and inspections of food service establishments, solid waste and infectious waste facilities, septic system installations swimming pools and many other sites and locations to enforce state laws.

In 2015, the environmental health division collected approximately 4,200 scrap tires, conducted 328 food safety inspections and 130 septic system inspections, among many other inspections and investigations.

The health department also worked with the Ohio River Medical Mission to provide services to to almost 3,000 people and animals.

The BLUMED mobile hospital is housed and manged by the health department and could provide care in case of emergency situations.

Additionally, the health department partners with the Ohio State University Mobile Mammography Clinic to provide screenings four time a year.

The health department is funded by this levy and grant funding provided through the state. Grant funding is not a consistent figure each year and can vary depending on if a program receive the grant fund and to what amount it is funded. The only source of year-to-year consistent funding is the tax levy.

The Meigs County Commissioners provide the building to house the health department, as well as utilities and a part-time janitor. The Meigs TB Clinic, which is housed in the same building as the health department, is not part of the health department or its funding structure.

The health department is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday at 112 East Memorial Drive in Pomeroy. Those with questions about the levy or services provided by the health department may contact Midkiff at 740-992-6626.

Meigs County Health Department staff County Health Department staff

By Sarah Hawley