Cuts to health programs after levy failure in Logan County

The Logan County Health District will eliminate jobs and cut back services after voters rejected a proposed operating levy this week.

The 0.8-mill new money levy narrowly failed at the polls with nearly 51 percent against it and about 49 percent in favor of it.

It would have generated about $900,000 per year for the health district programming and staff, Health Commissioner Dr. Boyd Hoddinott said, but without the new money they cannot continue operations as is.

“Everyone says it’s hard to sell public health,” Hoddinott said. “Or I always say you don’t know you need us till you need us if there’s a crisis.”

Three positions — an environmental health clerk, a sanitarian and a part-time immunization nurse — will be eliminated in the next year, Hoddinott said.

A total of eight staff members will likely be cut or not replaced, he said.

“We’re wrestling with it — it’s been a painful few days,” Hoddinott said of the process of selecting what positions and services will be eliminated.

The remaining employees at the district will see increases to their health insurance costs provided by the county, he added.

Walk-in hours also will be scaled back at the health district offices, 310 S. Main St. in Bellefontaine.

“We don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we might be only open a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon,” the health commissioner said.

Immunization programs will change, health officials said, especially adult immunizations. And fees for the remaining services will likely go up.

Residents in the county said many people will notice if certain services, such as shots, disappear.

“That’s going to affect a lot of people because it’s cheaper for them to come here sometimes than to go to the doctor,” said Tiffany Pope of DeGraff.

Voters might not have known what would happen if the levy didn’t pass, said Eddie Coleman of Bellefontaine.

“They just thought, ‘Well things would going to status quo, stay even,’ but they didn’t think things were going to be cut,” he said.

Health inspections, such as environmental health and infectious disease complaints, will also be scaled back because the department won’t have enough staff members to continue the same work they handle now.

Fees for those services could also increase.

The Logan County Home Health program will also close effective Jan. 31. Although it’s not directly related to the failure of the levy, the program wasn’t thriving as it had in the past because of the influx of other home-health companies in town, the commissioner said.

This most recent ballot issue to lose at the polls follows a string of failed levy attempts since 2007, most recently in 2013.

The levy would have cost less than eight cents a day for a the owner of a $100,000 home, Hoddinott said.

The agency will run on $600,000 of funding it receives from inside millage that each township and municipalities in the county contributes to the county budget commission.

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