BCHD Budget 1

Bob Balgemann Reporter
BELVIDERE – Some Boone County Health Department (BCHD) employees may be working fewer hours during the 2015-16 fiscal year, to help the department make ends meet.
“We’re struggling with the new budget,” Administrator Cynthia Frank told the overseeing Board of Health (BOH) during Monday’s monthly meeting. Staff believes they can reduce the time they work, but not lose any benefits.”
She added this only was in the discussion stage as the department begins working on the budget that will take effect Dec. 1.
Board Vice Chairman Jim Cox asked if the finance committee should discuss that issue when it meets later this month. Frank said that was fine with her.
Allen Sisson, one of three outgoing board members, asked Frank if she had considered the legal ramifications of reducing employee work hours to as low as 30 hours per week.
Yes, Frank answered, saying Boone County “offers benefits to (those who work) 30 hours a week. She said all options currently are on the table. “We’re not sure what our funds are at this point,” she said.
Board member Dr. Dan Lendman was assured the level of services provided to clients would not be lowered by employees working fewer hours.
While the BCHD is a county department it operates independently of the county. The county does approve the health department’s annual budget.
There was disagreement between the two last year when it came to funding the Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District’s $120,000 budget.
The health department had assumed that responsibility several years ago in order to repay additional tax funding it received from the county for an expansion project that did not occur. BCHD officials refused to continue the support in 2014-15, believing they had refunded all of the debt.
After weeks of negotiations, the county and health department agreed to split the cost. But department officials were concerned June 1 because, as vice chairman Cox put it, “That was only a one-year deal.”
In addition, the county reduced the health department’s tax levy by $50,000 to help pay additional Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund expenses mandated by the state for the past two years.
Cox said he hoped that wasn’t going to happen again in 2015-16.
“We’ve just started the budget process,” said county board member Cathy Ward, who was at the BOH meeting.
Contracting for billing
Also June 1 the BOH, in an attempt to save some money, agreed unanimously to hire CDP to do the health department’s medical billing.
Finance Director Sandy Romanek said the company specializes in health billings and is paid based on how much it collects. The cost would be $5,400 and she said she thought that money could be recouped in the first year.
Referring to CDP, she said the Illinois Department of Public Health was “putting its stamp of approval on them.”

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