LETTER TO THE EDITOR-PUBLISHED AUGUST 12, 2016 IN THE BOONE COUNTY JOURNAL BY TORIA FUNDERBURG
How Not-For- Profits serve OUR County
Not-For- Profits are the safety net for many of Boone County citizens! Many of these organizations provide a service to the citizens that the Health Department does not or will not provide. The NFPs GIVE back to the citizens. The HD CHARGES fees for their services to support their $1.1 plus million dollar budget.
The fire departments, Lions Clubs, day care centers, schools, Helping Hands, Mental Health Resources League, YMCA, granges, food pantries and churches to name a few, GIVE back to the community and are NOT PAID for their services. They give BECAUSE their community needs help. There are some groups who have provided assistance for those in need since Boone County was established!!
Many NFP benefits, which have for years raised charitable donations to help others, have ceased doing so because of strict permit requirements. BYB ICE CREAM SOCIALS! Over the many years that this delightful event took place, how many people contracted a food-born illness (NONE) compared to how many kids played ball and didn’t join gangs? Pancake breakfasts were a great way to enjoy some social food-sharing hours and raise money for a needy cause. How many are still going? Church bake sales and salad luncheons raised much needed charitable money as well!! How many people attending them got sick?? NONE!! Churches serve food after funerals and for fellowship gatherings. Today, their kitchens are inspected by the HD. WHO did the inspections a 100 years ago when these churches were helping the people of Boone County then??
Our country has developed a GERM phobia! The health industry forgets that people develop anti-bodies when the body is constantly exposed to some germs everyday. That's what our human body is designed to do! The idea of charging a $75 food permit to give away commercially bottled cold water or individually commercially wrapped suckers was ludicrous. But the HD tried! They want fees whenever and wherever they can charge for them. It seems to be more about getting MONEY than using common sense while helping others!
If I share some homemade cookies with the kids next door, will I need a food permit since they won't be baked in an inspected kitchen or be individually wrapped?? Inspectors don't handle food! Cooks handle food so give them some credit for common sense. It’s because of the careful and conscience efforts of our food handlers, that there have been NO food-born illnesses in well over 5 years.
Last year, the HD made 422 inspections, 1.6 per weekday! How many inspectors did it take to handled that daily caseload? And scheduling? Did the health dept. rotate its schedule to have inspectors work some regular hours on the weekend of Heritage Days? NO because their staff doesn't
work on weekends. BUT, wouldn't it have made sense to have them work THAT weekend when they were needed and take a few weekdays off? Sure, but the HD just paid for overtime adding to the cost of their bottom line. So remember, if you need health care on the weekend, you'll have to use Crusader Clinic or Immediate Care or go to your doctor, because our HD is closed.
The Moose raises money for “MOOSEHEART.” The Lions Clubs help the blind. The VFW is one of Boone County’s biggest charitable organizations. They have helped veterans since Americans have fought in wars! When the VETS asked for assistance from the county board, they were told by a few members of the county board, "Get in line!" It took a letter from Lisa Madigan in Springfield stating Boone County's legal and financial responsible to aid Boone County Vets before the VETS received any assistance from the county coffers! Do ours soldiers tell us "Get in line" when we need help? The American Legion and the VFW have raised over $139,000 with their video gambling for the Boone County coffers. Did the BC board have to "get in line"? No, they just deposited their check! Our VETS don't get anything that they haven't worked for!!
The VFW has given out over $120,000 in scholarships in the past 10 years. Paid $60,000 in postage to send care-packages to our BC active servicemen overseas. Monthly, the VFW donates money to the Belvidere/Boone Co. Food Pantry, Salvation Army, BYB and the BC Conservation District to pay the admission for under privileged children for summer camp. They also donate to RAMP and CASA. Wrongly charged fees by the HD for 8 years, the money returned was donated back to the citizens of BC. (The American Legion and the Moose Club were also wrongly charged but they haven'y received a refund yet.)
Since 2012, the VFW has donated thousands to the local Veterans Assistance Commission of Belvidere. Since July 2013, the VAC has returned over $200,000 to our local VETS in services to help with food, shelter and job searching. Where do you think this money comes from. From hard working VOLUNTEERS. Does the HD have a staff of volunteers! NO! Next year, the HD’s projected budget is
88% for salaries and benefits totaling $941,001 to just 18 people! And, 12% to the rest of BC's 53,000 citizens. The're also asking for salary increases as well! Where will it end?
The HD receives approximately $198,500 annually from our local Health Tax Referendum collected from Boone County! They also receive state and federal grants but those are YOUR tax dollars as well. Their 2017 projected earned revenue shows $6,250 for contractors licenses? $12,375 for soil bores and $3,600 in lab fees above the HD base cost. They also show $5,750 for well permits, $46,000 for septic permits and $17,500 for well and septic inspections needed to secure loan applications through HUD. Add on $80,000 they hope to collect in "Other Clinic Services" category and it's hard to remember they are suppose to be a nonprofit organization! Now they want money from charity groups! Where will it end?
Of course they will have dept. expenditures too. Like..."Other Professional Services" for $32,964? Soil and Water salary and wages' for $32,400. It would be nice to have those broken down a little more! "Other professional services"; is a "wide class" and $32,400 is a lot of money. More detail in this area would be nice.
Citizens wonder, has the HD ever looked at reducing staff, cutting duplicated programs and working with Crusader Clinic to provide pre-school check-ups, vaccinations, lab tests and wellness checks? It’s a money-saving concept and one that should be considered or will the HD just keep expanding at the taxpayers expense?? The BC taxpayers already pay for Crusader Clinic. Utilizing their services and trimming the HD dept. budget of wasteful spending and fat would be prudent!
According to Illinois State law, Boone County is not required to even have a health department. Our NFPs work for FREE and GIVE to the many needy families of Boone County!! Does the HD work for FREE?? Is anyone there a volunteer?? NO!! SO, WHAT is it about this sense of GREED the citizens are feeling against the HD that the HD can’t understand?? The HD operates with over a million dollar budget and still they want more! WHERE WILL IT END?
Director Cindy Frank should have thought more about conserving money and balancing her departments budget than giving two of her employee big raises, and then a 13% raise to HERSELF! Where did she think the money would come from to cover these pay increases which have cost the BC taxpayer over $200,000 in salaries and benefits these past three years?? Where will next year’s dollars come from??? Of course! Ask the county for more! Or, get it from NFPs! And how do you do that? Ask the county to eliminate COUNTY CODE – Article. II, Div. I, Sec 30-35, (“h”) and mandate that the NFPs must pay for a FOOD PERMIT! Money the HD takes from the NFPs, is money taken away from those families in need!! Not everyone’s need is related to a health issue!! Some of our citizens live below the poverty level, does anyone on the HD staff live below the poverty level??
Last fall, the Boone County board voted DOWN the HD's request to charge the NFPs a food permit fee. NOW, they want the BC to rewrite our county codes! Wasn't NO last fall a display of how the citizens feel about the HD's constant demand to take money from those who truly GIVE? Is the HD oblivious to any other needs besides health? The citizens of Boone County must live within their means and so should the HD. Still, the HD initiates new programs each year costing more money. Expanding beyond their budget is irresponsible. Asking the NFPs to prop up their budget and taking those dollars from those with other needs is GREEDY. The volunteers who work so hard helping others should tell your County Board to vote NO on changing the 501 code!!
Some say the “federally issued 501” tax classifications, is a wide class. Contributions to many 501s are NOT tax deductible! BUT, if citizens only give when they can deduct it from my taxes, “WHO” is it they are really helping? Should we demand a receipt at the “Little Red Kettle” or just drop something
in? Or the fireman with their “boot” collection, should we demand a receipt from him as well?? Should people give ONLY when THEY can get something in return? Is that what being charitable means? I TRULY HOPE NOT! Maybe Boone County should go back the multi-county health care system, contract out all services and eliminate the HD. It would cost the county less and the savings could be directed towards our public safety providers! They need more money and they work on weekends!
The "Department of Environmental Services" could be eliminated too. What tests do THEY actually preform? They don’t have a lab! They don’t have any equipment! Mr. Hatfield, the Director of Environmental Services is paid $70,011 a year including benefits by the HD for this position. What does Mr. Hatfield actually do? Calls a state licensed contractor! WHO handled these services before his position was established? The building dept. could private citizens needing these services initiate these calls? Absolutely! Letting them contact the building dept. for a list of state licensed contractors could save the county $70,011 a year. Once the inspection or service was completed, could the citizen then deliver the completed form to the building department showing the required service properly completed whether it be for closing a well, installing a new well or septic, or an inspection for the sale of property to meet a legal requirement? Absolutely!
This approach is NOT about eliminating services for the citizens of Boone County; it’s about working with others to eliminate the duplication of services and allowing the NFPs to help our citizens in ways the HD cannot. If the Boone County continues to have a HD then the HD must be more transparent and cost efficient with the taxpayer’s money.
Boone County should be PROUD that it DOES NOT charge its NFPs a fee for helping those in need! Many of these volunteers PAY for the privilege to GIVE!
(All salaries as as well as meeting are posted on the county website..boonecountyil.org. Check it out!)
Boone County resident.