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Cincinnati Health Dept. Looks To Expand In Tight Budget Year

cincinnati health department
Courtesy of WCPO

The Cincinnati Department of Health wants to add 16 positions to the budget for the next fiscal year. Health Commissioner Melba Moore presented the department's budget request to City Council's Budget and Finance Committee Monday.

Moore says some new positions are related to the pandemic, like an environmental safety specialist.

"This was an emergency," Moore said. "We need to be able to be nimble, we need to be able to stand up quickly, to mitigate the situation. So we need another person to help us in our emergency response area."

Other positions include two epidemiologists, a psychiatrist, public health educators, behavioral health professionals, a dentist and dental hygienist.

"We've learned if nothing else, that you have to keep the education going," Moore said. "Many are talking about the hesitancy with vaccines within our African American community, within our communities of color."

Moore says her department lost 28 employees in last year's cost-saving early retirement program.

"I know you know that we didn't stop our other program operations in this pandemic," Moore said. "We continue those on as well as focusing on addressing COVID."

Moore is also asking for $3 million annually for building maintenance and $1.5 million for telehealth equipment.

The health department is one of many asking for funding increases during budget discussions, but city administrators expect at least some cuts will be needed.

See the full budget presentation below (story continues after):

Dept of Health Budget Prese... by WVXU News

Recent winter storms have strained the Department of Public Services budget, according to Director Jerry Wilkerson, Jr. He says winter operations expenses will be much higher this year.

"Salt and chemicals in the street, and the plowing, it starts tearing up the roads," Wilkerson told council members Monday. "So now we're dealing with potholes, we're dealing with line painting."

Wilkerson also says what might seem like "low-hanging fruit" in a tight budget year is actually critically important: training.

"I just hope as we start trying to cut budgets that we always keep in mind that training is very much needed and has to be a continual basis," he said.

Budget discussions will continue for the next few months before City Council votes on a final version by the end of June.

See the full budget presentation below: 

Dept of Public Services Bud... by WVXU News

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.