BLOOMINGTON — The McLean County Health Department is planning a balanced budget for the fiscal year that begins Jan. 1, with revenue and expenses about 7.2 percent lower than the current fiscal year.

The McLean County Board of Health, on Wednesday night, discussed a balanced health department budget of revenue and expenses of $8,535,508. That's 7.18 percent less than the 2019 balanced budget of $9,196,219.

The board is expected to take action on the budget at its Aug. 14 meeting. Board member Susan Schafer had additional questions and board president Judy Buchanan urged her to meet with health department Finance Director Cathy Dreyer to get those questions answered before the next meeting.

The total tax rate to support health department programs will decrease from 0.11083 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 0.11035 cents per $100 assessed valuation, a decrease of 0.43 percent.

"We've worked diligently to allow a good stewardship of tax dollars by decreasing expenses and using staff time more efficiently," Dreyer told The Pantagraph.

"I'm proud of our employees, who recognize the importance of being accountable to our community with a balanced budget," said Tammy Brooks, interim health department administrator.

"We've combined some programs, our staff has been cross-trained and, as we have had vacancies, we have not filled positions," Brooks said. A full-time nursing position, a full-time office support position and a part-time parking attendant position will not be filled, Brooks said.

In addition, the health department communication specialist position will be restructured to share responsibilities with county administration, Brooks said.

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"We have not received any information from county administration regarding a salary increase," Dreyer said. "That information will become available as county administration goes through the budget process."

The tentative budget is balanced with the assistance of $199,433 from the department's health fund balance, which was about $2 million as of Dec. 31, Dreyer said.

Revenue and expenses are projected to decrease, in part, because of a state change in the federal claiming process for un-reimbursed Medicaid expenses, Dreyer said.

"We'll get Medicaid reimbursement (for family case management, immunizations and dental) but our expenses are more than the reimbursement," Dreyer explained. "In the past, we could claim 50 percent of un-reimbursed costs. Starting in 2020, we will no longer be able to do that."

The health department will supplement the loss by using $115,000 in reserves from its federal financial participation fund, which had a balance of about $1.4 million as of Dec. 31, Dreyer said.

In other action, the board approved access to care, behavioral health and healthy eating/active living as McLean County's top three health needs in the Community Health Needs Assessment. The assessment also must be approved by boards representing Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center and Chestnut Family Health Center.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech


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