Boone County Health Department: The self feeding government entity in Boone County concerned with self preservation who out of a 1.1 million dollar budget spends 88% for wages and benefits for their 18 employees. (Their 2015 annual report taken offline).
Now the Boone County Health Department is stamping their feet at both boards ( Boone County Board & health department boards that is) trying to ride the backs of the not for profits for more fees.
There are some great people in the health department in Boone County, there are maybe 4 or 5 on their health department board that can think on their own and make rational decisions on their own in my opinion. The rest are lemming followers, who will “sing back” to the health department what ever the health department wants them to sing back. I have personally observed this in the very few meetings I attended. In my opinion, if you want to watch a very weak board in action, go to a health board meeting and watch the board dance to the tune of the ones they are supposed to manage.
Now on the Boone County Board Health and Human Service committee: Jeff Carlisle (chairman) and Cathy Ward (member) will not be “lead around by the nose” by the health department. Thank heavens we have 4 on the county board with some backbone.
Ms. Frank wants us to believe that we are all in extreme danger with food-borne illness, that is about all I have ever observed her chant. The fact is when I sent in a freedom of information act request, asking for the last 5 of food-borne outbreaks occurring in Boone County, the health department replied there may have been one. They could did not give me a date, people involved, cost to inspect or correct. Until I see some ink on the paper how do we even know one incidence happened? Is it worth $5.5 million over a 5 year period? I truly do not think so. Yesterday I told the 1 incident had nothing to do with a restaurant or church. It was a private event.
Lets look at fees for food permits.
Since 2006, our food permit fees at the VFW have increased more than 522 percent. The VFW paid $450 for a food permit in 2015; McDonald's & Burger King paid $205 per year; Belvidere Ace, $120; Subway Gateway, $205; The Brick, $240; Buchanan Street Pub, $140; Buchanan Street Bar and Grill, $450; Tropical Oasis, $260; Pizza Hut, $240; Maria's Pizza, $450; Arby's, $450; and Starbucks, $240. Moose Lodge (tax except by stature) $450. The fees are all over the place with no rhyme or reason.
When I asked the Health Department why there was a more than 100 percent difference in fees between the VFW and McDonald's, I was told that the VFW was considered “high risk.” Again, I would like to point out that the McDonald's fee is $205 and Belvidere Ace is $120. One sells food 24/7 (McDonald's), the other sells soda and candy bars and gives away popped popcorn (Ace Hardware).
Now, the Health Department wants all nonprofits to pay fees. The sky is falling and the Health Department says, "We are in the red. We need more money. We need more fees, now!"
My concern is, if you have budget problems, why, in 2013, did you, the Health Department, give your staff $56,000 in wage increases? In three years, that raise has grown to more than $168,000. It is reported that Cindy Frank gave herself a 55 percent pay increase. I am curious if this was really true? I know we all dream of a “cushy” lifetime, an 8-to-5 government job with most weekends and all major holidays off, and raises to our own pay whenever we can. But in the real world outside of government that does not happen.
The Health Department now proposes hiring an administrator for $90,675 in 2017. Boone County Health Department, hello, have you ever heard of truly working to have a balanced budget in place? Maybe you need to combine some jobs or have some layoffs so you can then be in the black. All of your money comes from local, state or federal taxes, (grants) our money.
Do we really need a health department? Not really. Many feel, myself included, they are just one huge duplication of many services we already have. Many “fees” could be paid right at the circuit clerks office. For 1.1million dollars I think you could pay for a few more staff at the clerks office. The Crusader Clinic is just down the street for medical services. The health department is not there nights and weekends. There must be no danger on weekends or evenings of food-borne illness. Maybe they have an answering machine and can get back the next day or Monday?
•Put this money to the Sheriffs Department and Fire Protection. Now there is where the men and women are out there 24/7 looking out for us, truly keeping us safe. Lets trim all the expensive “fat hanging on the bone” in the health department.
•This is the opinion of Greg Kelm Commander VFW Post 1461 since 2006, President of Boone County Veteran's Club since 2006. Please email comments to email@example.com.