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ELECTION 2018: Levy needed to run Health Department, commissioner says

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Issue 4
What is it: a 0.27-mill renewal levy
Duration: 10 years
How much would it raise: $1.2 million annually.
Purpose: Fund operations at the health department.
Cost of homeowner: The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $7.85 a year in real estate taxes.


MEDINA — The Medina County Health Department is asking voters to approve a 0.27-mill renewal levy in the Nov. 6 general election.

Health Commissioner Krista Wasowski said the 10-year levy is needed for operational expenses.

The levy approved in 2008 is set to expire on Dec. 31. It generates $1.24 million a year. If renewed, the levy would continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $7.85 a year, according to figures released by the Medina County Auditor’s Office.

She said the levy is a “small millage, but it’s critical to keep doing what we’re doing.”

The health department provides immunizations clinics, car seat installations, restaurant inspections, maintains birth and death records, and provides health services, including dental, to children and adults.

“Hopefully, we’ve done enough in years past,” Wasowski said.

If Issue 4 is voted down, “we would have to look at non-required programs to see what we would be able to continue to do,” she said. “The levy is used across board in little pieces in many different programs. There wouldn’t be one single thing we’d need to eliminate.”

Wasowski said the health department became a federally qualified health center in July. That will eventually change the way the health center is reimbursed for the services it provides, she said.

“It will change our funding structure,” Wasowski said previously. “It’s our desire to have the least amount of levy support.”

She said the health department is still waiting for the process to register with Medicare and Medicaid.

“It won’t change anything reimbursement wise until we pass both pieces of red tape,” Wasowski said.

As a federally qualified facility, she said the health department will make better use of taxpayer money and provide more comprehensive care.

Once qualified, she said the department will be paid differently by insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare.

Wasowski said the levy and other taxes fund 44 percent of the department’s $7,275,309 budget. Client fees and registration fees also provide 44 percent, with grants funding 11 percent. Less than 1 percent of the health department’s budget comes from the state.

The health department’s levy campaign operates on a small budget, Wasowski said. It’s been positive, she said, but it’s difficult to gauge how supportive the voters will be.

“It’s hard to get a sense,” she said. “The people I talk to most know what we do as an agency. (Most of them) see what we do for the community.”

Wasowski said she is hoping for a strong turnout Nov. 6.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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