Marietta council plans to review health department budget

Marietta City Council questioned the needed finances to officially receive accreditation in the joint municipal health district on Monday after reviewing a spike in budget requests from 2019 to 2020.

In 2019, the approved budget for the health department was $465,255.50.

Next year, the requested budget from the now-merged Marietta-Belpre Health Department is $754,468.

The two departments merged last year into a joint district in the hopes of obtaining more state funding. Prior to the merger, the Belpre department had already contracted with Marietta for health inspections, public health monitoring, vital statistics and immunizations.

Council’s Finance Committee heard from Health Commissioner Anne Goon Monday about not only the purposes of accreditation and the state mandate to complete the process, but also the anticipated costs as the unified municipal district completes documentation by June 2021.

“At this time we’re in the midst of the budget build… we’re trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Finance Chairman Mike Scales. “We’ll need to review your proposed budget very closely and go over all of the details before we bring it to a full council so we can answer all of the questions.”

Questions Monday included the topics of consolidation of certain health department funds and the proportions of supplement between Marietta and Belpre general funds.

“I understand this is an increase for Belpre, I really don’t care,” said Councilwoman Susan Boyer. “There’s no reason for us to be paying Belpre’s share of the cost of the health department… it strikes me as their problem, not ours…They need to know very quickly that they need to come up with the money.”

Scales expressed interest in attending the municipal health department’s next board meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the Marietta office, 304 Putnam St., second floor.

“I want to see a plan of where these funds are coming from before we look at pay increases, and we need to speak with the board so we all know where we stand,” said Scales.

Council acts in the same position as the county commissioners do for the county health department. Both bodies authorize the amounts of funds to go to the departments from governmental coffers, then the governing boards of health approve the individual department budgets.

Goon explained Monday that her proposed budget to council for funding has not yet been approved by the joint-city health board.

Council will next meet Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for its regular business meeting in room 10 of the Armory, 241 Front St.