Bexley News

Franklin County Public Health

Health department considering rate hike

Proposed $2 per-capita increase would fund accreditation, services

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Franklin County Public Health is considering raising the per-capita fee for services it provides to 17 central Ohio townships, 14 cities and nine villages.

The health department provides services to all of Franklin County except Columbus, which has its own health department, and Worthington, which contracts with Columbus Public Health for services.

Any increase must first be approved by the department's board of health.

"But the board hasn't decided yet," Franklin County Public Health commissioner Susan Tilgner said July 3.

Tilgner is visiting the affected townships, cities and villages in advance of any board decision.

The board will consider a per-capita increase of $2 at its Aug. 12 meeting. The increase would be effective Jan. 1.

The increase would affect each township, village and city uniquely based on population and property tax values, Tilgner said.

If the increase is approved, a slightly higher portion of the property tax revenue already being collected in each township and village would be directed to the health department, making less available in 2015 for other services.

Franklin County Public Health has contractual agreements with cities, which would be charged $2 more on a straight per-capita basis. Each city would determine how to absorb the cost increase.

The funding increase is necessary, Tilgner said, in order for the health department to reach and maintain mandated accreditation and to keep up with demand for services.

The Ohio Department of Health has ordered all departments in the state to meet the standards of the national Public Health Accreditation Board by 2018, or lose federal and state funding, Tilgner said.

Franklin County Public Health provides services below the median cost in Ohio and the United States while facing increasing demands, exacerbated by recent outbreaks of mumps and other diseases, Tilgner said. The department's median per-capita expenses in 2013 were $18.60, compared with $31 in Ohio and $39 nationwide.

The department would be challenged to maintain the current standards of emergency preparedness, disease control and a variety of other services without additional revenue, Tilgner said.

Franklin County Public Health's 2013 budget was $7.2 million. About one-third of its revenue comes from the inside millage collected from property taxes in townships and villages as well as fees from city contracts. The remainder comes from grants and fees for licenses and other services.

The department receives about $120,000 from the state and about $320,000 in federal funding each year that would be at risk if the board does not meet and maintain the accreditation standard.

Tilgner said the board estimates an additional $957,000 is needed annually -- an amount that can be achieved through the proposed $2 increase.

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