Health Department move proposed

Published 10:34 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Under a proposal, the Ironton Health Department may move into the City Center.

With a $96,000 deficit reported for December, the city is looking at cutting costs in all departments.

In a letter to the city health department board, Mayor Katrina Keith proposed having the health department move out of its current location at 2120 S. Eighth Street, which is rented from the county for $1 annually. The costs savings would be from not having to pay utilities, although exact figures are not available yet.

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The proposed move would have the director and the registrar move into the mayor’s office space and the director of nursing would use office space off the lobby of the Ironton Police Department. The health department could use space on the City Center’s fourth floor for storage and the city would continue to pay the $1 for the current building to use for storage.

According to the letter, the budget problem comes not from spending but from income tax revenues not meeting budgeted numbers and 98 percent of the city departments came in under budget.

“As I have repeatedly stated to City Council, the City of Ironton does not have an expense problem,” Keith wrote. “We have a revenue generating problem.”

The mayor and the city are working on the budget for 2017 and there will be further moves to cut costs.

“Police, Fire, and Finance Departments will experience staffing adjustments while the health department will no longer receive a transfer of funds,” Keith wrote.

Keith reminded the health department board that the move is just a proposal at this time.

“But, keep in mind we have only a few weeks to make a decision as to what direction we want to go,” she wrote.

The savings would come from not having to pay utilities or maintenance.

Actual costs were not available since it is just a proposal.

Ironton City Council member Chuck O’Leary said he doesn’t have all the variables about the move yet but the idea seems good to him.

“The mayor still has a lot of particulars to work through with before she brings it to us,” he said.

Tyler Walters, a member of the Ironton Health Department board, wasn’t at the last meeting; said there has been talk of moving the health department board into the City Center before.

“(The current building) has been beneficial from a cost perspective as opposed to try and finish out office space at the City Center that wasn’t built out for a health clinic,” Walters said.

He added doesn’t know all the specifics of the proposed move yet “But it is always intriguing when you have an opportunity to try to improve the health department’s services for the city’s residents.

He said he understands the needs to cut costs but the health department board will be asking for a legal opinion as to funding the agency.

“I do understand, from the mayor’s perspective, she is trying do everything she can to save money and people won’t vote to raise taxes,” Walters said. “Everyone is trying to tighten up their pockets and try to do what is best for the city. It’s tough times.”

Walters said they haven’t talked to City Council members yet.

“Once everything is fully vetted out, then we as a board will have to evaluate how we have to interact with mayor and the city,” he said. “From a health department perspective, we want to make sure we are providing the health services that City of Ironton has been relying on for years and years.”

Keith was not available for comment as of press time.