Board of Health approves CCHD budget, plans for pension obligations

The Board of Health approved a budget for the Christian County Health Department’s upcoming fiscal year Monday that accepts an increase to their pension liability that could come into effect July 1.

The $4.6 million dollar budget was approved unanimously with the understanding that they could come back and make amendments, should the Kentucky General Assembly pass something that helps relieve that burden on quasi-governmental agencies, such as health departments. In the meantime, they will move forward with the expectation that burden will have to be paid, and Public Health Director Kayla Bebout says they’re in better shape than many due to healthy reserves.

In the event they are hit with the increase–going from a 49 percent contribution to 84 percent–the health department will pay $1.2 million in pension contributions, which is $541,324 more than the current fiscal year. The budget includes a restructuring of how employees are given raises but does not eliminate them, and does not include an increase to the tax rate on motor vehicles or personal property, which is 3.2 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value.

Bebout says they’re not cutting services, but they will be evaluating what services are being replicated by other agencies they could reduce at the department and what is needed for the community.

She says what concerns her the most in the pension crisis is that some people may not get the health care they need across the state if other health departments have to cut services or close.

The local department has enough reserves, and with the help of the tax district, to operate for another 143 months, according to Bebout, even with the additional burden.

In other discussions, the Board of Health intends to eventually renovate parts of the department, including making the entrances handicapped accessible, renovating office spaces for more effective work environments and improving safety.

Governor Matt Bevin has said he intends to call a special session to pass a bill that would provide relief to quasi-governmental agencies, but at this moment, there’s been no word on when that session might come.