New role presses public health budget

Webster County Public Health’s budget changed significantly in the past year, in part because it acquired North Central Home Care when that organization closed, Director Kari Prescott told the Webster County Board of Supervisors Thursday in a budget session.

That change alone brought five new employees into the health department, Prescott said.

Supervisors continued their budget hearings for fiscal year 2015, hearing budget proposals for the county attorney, veterans affairs, human resources, child support recovery and social services, in addition to public health.

In that department, recent hiring has included social workers, an emergency preparedness person and a dental hygienist, Prescott said.

Supervisor Mark Campbell said the total was 13 new employees.

Those hires were part of an increase from about $2.51 million in fiscal year 2014 to $3.85 million in 2015, but Prescott told supervisors those numbers are not accurate. An upcoming budget amendment will change the 2014 numbers.

That amendment will add $763,000 to the 2014 budget, pushing it to $3,277,134.

The amended increase – from 2014 to 2015 – is then $573,823, or 17.5 percent.

The county isn’t paying for this budget, said Supervisor Merrill Leffler.

Prescott said the Health Department brings in revenue through fees, grants and other means. Its revenue increased from $2,802,959 to a projected $3,247,042, an increase of $444,083 or 15.8 percent, according to budget documents.

The department’s budget also included $225,000 in 2015 for remodeling after moving from its building at 330 First Ave. N., to 723 First Ave. S., the county-owned building where Northwest Bank is located.

The health department will eventually move from the basement in that building to the second floor.

Campbell said the county should consider moving that cost into the general fund as a loan, and letting Public Health pay it back over four years, to keep the large item off Public Health’s budget. This will prevent it from interfering with the department’s cash flow.

Public Health is also in the process of taking over some aspects of Title X family planning services, after Fort Dodge’s Planned Parenthood closed earlier in the year.

Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs is proposing a $95,851 budget, down from last year’s $105,628, which is a decrease of $9,777 or 9.3 percent.

The biggest decrease comes because the new director, Dan Lewandowski, isn’t on the county’s insurance, Lewandowski said.

“No. 1, because I’m part time, and No. 2, I have the VA and also I have Tricare because I’m a retiree,” he said.

The Veteran’s Affairs office is actually open more hours this year, he said.

Campbell said the department assists local veterans in accessing federal funding.

Lewandowski said in fiscal year 2012 there was $5.79 million in federal compensation and pension to Webster County veterans.

County attorney and others

County Attorney Cori Coleman proposed a budget of $900,774 for her department. Last year’s was $907,396, for a decrease of $6,622 or 0.7 percent.

The supervisors also received a budget proposal of $125,150 for county Social Services, down from $126,850 last year, a decrease of $1,700 or about 1.3 percent. This is to fund the local branch of the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Personnel Business Manager Vicki Hendershot said the county is reimbursed for a portion of the expenses it pays for the department – currently 34 percent. She said this money could also be used to help pay for improvements in the parking lot at the First Avenue North building, if the county chooses to do that.

Jessica Wernimont proposed a budget of $148,981 for Child Support Recovery Services, down from $154,272 last year, a decrease of $5,291 or 3.4 percent. Webster County then receives funding for the department from the state.

Webster County Human Resources Director Amy Porter proposed a budget of $125,226. Porter and the supervisors then made a few changes. The revised proposal was $112,726, up from $103,957 last year, an increase of $8,769 or 8.4 percent.

Porter said the budget included about $10,000 for new software which would allow all applicants for county jobs to apply online.