By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Morgan County Health Department has requested a $20,000 increase for the next fiscal year’s budget from Morgan County government. According to Dr. Claude Burnette, district health director, a $20,000 increase for next year would not be unprecedented, but restoring funding levels from previous years before the recession.
“We would like to see it go up a little bit again,” said Burnette to the Morgan County Commissioners at the March 15 work session. “We enjoy your support and look forward to having it.”
If the county grants the health department the increase, Burnette pledged to use the money to hire a health educator and another nurse.
The commissioners praised the health department leadership for their targeted efforts in reducing teen pregnancy through birth control and family planning methods, administering immunizations, and educating about the relationship between diet and various health issues, such as obesity and diabetes.
Commissioner Andy Ainslie suggested the board look into state funding opportunities, noting that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal recently proposed a 5 percent funding increase for nursing and a 3 percent funding increase for other health department staff.
County Manager Michael Lamar is tasking county staff to review the health department’s request before making a recommendation for approval to the board.
“If we think we can afford the additional money, we will advise the board to approve the request,” said Lamar. “The health department performs a valuable service to our community and does not ask for money willy-nilly, so we take their requests very seriously.”