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Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Health department's fiscal woes easing

By Shelley Grieshop
CELINA - The local health department has a balance of $139,000 more this year than in 2012, thanks to a cost-cutting strategy and other factors.
Revenue for the Mercer County-Celina City Health Department since January totals $604,920 - an increase of $157,237 over the same six-month period in 2012. Expenses are $453,203, an increase of $18,597 above last year.
During the same period last year the department reported just $13,077 in revenue over expenses.   
"This is real positive news from where we were a year ago," Mercer County-Celina City Health Department Administrator Dale Palmer told board members Wednesday.
The health department's 2013 general fund budget is $1.046 million, which is padded by a $123,000 carryover from 2012.
Health officials last year adopted a financial contingency plan after voters in November 2011 defeated a 0.6-mill, countywide property tax levy to support the agency. The levy would have generated $530,274 annually or 48 percent of the budget. The contingency plan cut salaries by 7 percent, terminated holiday pay and cut employees' work week by one hour.  
Also helping to keep the agency in better financial standing is a new program that allows the staff to bill clients' private insurance companies for services such as immunizations. Reimbursement amounts to the health department have increased and arrive faster, officials said. More than half the agency's clients are now billed, recent data shows.
Officials this year also welcomed a revenue increase from the county's political subdivisions - townships, villages and the city of Celina - which contributed $295,000 to the 2013 budget. The amount is $50,000 more than last year.
"We will continue to analyze the situation month to month," Palmer told the board.
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Additional online story on this date
The powerful storm that ripped through Mercer and Auglaize counties Wednesday afternoon was akin to a weak tornado, reported Mike Kurz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. [More]
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