CIRCLEVILLE — Starting next year, Pickaway County Public Health Department will receive roughly an additional $180,000 in annual funding.
The District Advisory Council, which is made up of representatives from each of Pickaway County’s townships, villages and Circleville, along with the Pickaway County Commissioners, voted in favor of the measure 11-4 during their meeting Tuesday evening.
Nasandra Wright, health commissioner, has visited with most of the entities and expressed the need for the funding. She spoke last week at Circleville City Council.
“The changes that a resident can expect and would see is that we’ll be more prepared to handle a public health emergency,” Wright told City Council. “For example, we had a case of suspected measles, which luckily came back negative, because we lack the resources to respond.”
Wright said another thing they planned to address is infant mortality, which has been on the rise in Pickaway County since 2015.
“We’ve had almost 20 infant mortality cases,” she added. “When we see those cases, they hit home hard. So we’re going to be putting in place measures to help with maternal health. We currently don’t have those programs at the health department to support the need in the community.”
Several village representatives were not present to vote. Circleville, Darby, Deercreek, Harrison, Jackson, Madison, Monroe, Salt Creek, Walnut, Washington and Wayne townships all voted in the affirmative. No votes were the City of Circleville, Muhelnberg Township, Scioto Township and Darbyville. The Pickaway County Commissioners abstained.
Joe DeFelice, Harrison Township Trustee and voting member of the DAC for the township, said all three trustees discussed the increase and thought it was in their best interest to vote yes.
“Even though it’s quite a bit of money coming out of the Township’s budget, the community needs the health department,” he said. “We thought they are putting together a pretty good effort. With a new director and 211 system we see they’re headed in a good direction so we voted to vote in favor of increasing the funding.”
Following the vote, Wright addressed the DAC thanking them for their consideration during this process.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all the yes votes, no votes and the abstaining votes,” she continued. “I know the decision was not easy and it’s one that has been made in favor of our department. It gives us the resources we need to better serve our community that is indeed in need. This has been a lot of late nights at these township meetings.”
Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy, the city’s representative on the council, was instructed to vote no by City Council at their most recent meeting. David Crawford, council president asked the administration what would need to be cut to pay their 40 percent share, which is $72,000 in additional funding.
“We’d have to take that [funding] into consideration for the 2020 budget,” McIlroy said at that meeting. “I’m not really sure what would be cut, we’d have to take a look at what all we have coming in. I’d ask if we have any new funding coming in to cover it. What we don’t want to do is lose staffing because of this. As we look at this we may have to be creative.”
The increase in funding will take place starting next year.