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Health district levy defeated

LCHD officials share concerns for agency’s future

Logan County Health District officials shared concerns Tuesday evening about the future of the agency after the failure of the health district’s 0.75-mill operating levy that would have raised about $750,000 per year to support programs and personnel.  

Voters turned down the measure 1,805 votes to 1,502 votes in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial totals.

LCHD-election-night

Logan County Health District officials and employees, from the left, Jennifer Wren, Administrator Lisa Downing and Health Commissioner Dr. Boyd Hoddinott react Tuesday evening to the results of the agency’s operating levy during a gathering at the home of Don Spath, board president. EXAMINER PHOTO | MANDY LOEHR

During 2007 and 2008, three similar LCHD levy attempts were defeated by voters, with the final levy failing by 400 votes out of approximately 22,000 votes cast.

Considering the history of previous levy attempts, Logan County Health Commissioner Dr. Boyd Hoddinott said it is unlikely that the health district will pursue another operating levy in the near future.

“This is the fourth time now. It’s disappointing, but the public has spoken that this is what they want,” he said during a gathering of health district employees to watch the levy results at Board President Don Spath’s home.

With the loss of the levy, LCHD officials said they are concerned about meeting a future accreditation requirement for health districts in the state that begins in 2018.

Levy funds would have been pledged to hire a part-time professional to assist with the highly involved accreditation process, Dr. Hoddinott said.

“This accreditation requirement will be very difficult to attain without a person specifically dedicated to this task. We’re not going to be able to do what the state is asking us to do.”

Creating further difficulties, health districts that do not attain accreditation by the deadline would no longer be eligible to receive grant funding, which makes up about $300,000 of the LCHD’s current budget.

Also relating to budget setbacks, Mr. Spath said the levy would have afforded an opportunity to upgrade nurses’ salaries. The LCHD currently loses many nursing staff members to higher-paying jobs elsewhere, and then must spend additional funds to train new nurses.

“There are some great nurses with excellent training here that we can’t afford to pay at a fair rate,” he said.

Finally, as a result of the issue’s defeat, the agency will continue to receive $500,000 in inside millage funds per year appropriated through the county budget commission. Each of the townships and municipalities in the county contribute toward this total, in accordance with Ohio Revised Code requirements.

If the operating levy had been approved, it would have relieved this funding requirement from the townships and municipalities, as the health district no longer would have utilized inside millage.

Get election coverage in Wednesday's Examiner.

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