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Richmond County Board of Health looks for more billing to aid budget

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The Richmond County Health Department will try to deal with less money from Augusta even as staff work to increase billing.

The Richmond County Board of Health approved a budget Tuesday for next fiscal year of slightly more than $6 million, essentially flat from a budget of $5.925 million this year. Next year’s budget includes $773,000 from county government.

“I would anticipate that would go down,” said Augusta Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who is also on the Board of Health.

“We’re anticipating a cut,” District Administrator Brenda Robertson said. The health department received $843,000 the previous year. Next year’s budget will include $1.6 million in funding from this year that will “roll forward” into next year, said East Central Health District Director Ketty Gonzalez. The amount carried forward from year to year has doubled in the past five years because of hard work from the health department staff, she said.

The staff has also been trying to increase its charges and has nearly doubled the outpatient clinic fees from $169,260 last fiscal year to $328,325 this fiscal year, Gonzalez said. The health department has tried to be “as conservative as possible” with expenses, too, Robertson said.

It will be important for the health department to find other sources of revenue as government spending decreases, Brigham said.

“For the next five to 10 years, it will be even less than it is now,” he said. The federal government will make cuts that local governments cannot make up, he said.


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