Board of health approves balanced budget

The Richmond County Board of Health voted Tuesday night to approve a balanced budget of just over $7 million for next fiscal year, but still hopes to get a cut restored from the Augusta Commission and to get reimbursement from the federal government for services during Hurricane Matthew last year.

 

The board voted unanimously to approve the budget but is hopeful board member and Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias will be able to restore a $75,000 cut to the health department’s budget approved by the commission.

The cut had been much larger but “I got half of it back,” Sias said.

With that restored, the funding from the county would be just over $1 million, but East Central Health District Administrator Denise Sellars said she would have to get the correct figure for Sias to request.

“Ask for everything you want” upfront in that request, Sias told her.

“I will,” Sellars said. “We don’t want to be greedy. We just want to be able to serve our folks.”

Augusta officials might have thought the health department was getting a big boost in funding because some state funding that comes to the county is actually intended as pass-through money to other counties in the district because Richmond County serves as the lead county for the district, Sellars said.

The $3.5 million state allocation, for instance, is really just $2.45 million for the county and contains more than $1,114,000 for state raises granted since fiscal year 2015, of which only $160,000 will go to Richmond County, she said.

The budget also does not include the $108,000 in reimbursement that the health department requested last year from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for services during the hurricane, which the health department hopes will still be paid, Sellars said.

“We know those wheels turn very slowly,” she said.

 

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com

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