Carroll County Health Department Cuts Programs, Jobs Amid Funding Deficits

As a result of a $420,000 funding deficiency due to a state-mandated employee salary increase, the Carroll County Health Department has cut staff positions and a program. As reported in The Carroll County Times:

Ed Singer, health officer for the department, briefed the Carroll County Board of Commissioners Thursday on the funding deficit, as well as the decision to cut five staffed positions and its audiology program. These positions have already been eliminated, Singer said. The department employs about 160 people.

“We spent the better part of a month debating what we were going to do,” Singer said. “We were trying to make a decision that would have the least impact on Carroll and staff.”

The overall department budget is roughly $15 million in fiscal year 2016 and this money is split between 81 different programs. In FY16, the state contributed $2.9 million and the county allocated $1.5 million. The only true discretionary funds comes from Carroll County, as state money is dedicated to eight specific programs.

The remaining $10.6 million comes from federal and state grants. By accepting these grants, the Health Department must use the funds for specific programs, with no latitude for discretionary purposes.

Carroll’s Health Department is not the only one in Maryland to face such a challenge, he said. Earlier in the fiscal year, which began July 1, a few jurisdictional health departments had to undergo similar cutbacks, and more departments are expected to do the same later in the fiscal year, Singer said.

The article notes the cuts included an audiology program, a nursing position and a community health educator. Health Department officials do not believe the cuts will have a significant impact on county residents.

“We believe residents will get equivalent or better service from the [Carroll] Hospital, nonprofits and the private sector,” said Deputy Health Officer Henry Taylor during an interview Friday. “Conceptually, the point is the Health Department is reconfiguring what and how we do it. It’s a time of change for public health.”

“The Health Department is there to fill gaps that other organizations can’t,” Singer said. “If there are other providers out there that are providing the same services, it’s really not a service we should be providing at the Health Department; at least that’s my position.”

For more information read the full article in The Carroll County Times.