County Supervisors Hear Plea To Preserve Public Health Office

Supporters of the Mills County Public Health Office filled the Mills County Board Of Supervisors meeting room Tuesday morning in an effort to persuade the three-member board to reconsider their prelminiary proposal to slash public health  office funding by 75 percent in the 2024-25 fiscal year budget.

The county’s proposed budget allocates $155,000 for public health in FY 25, down from $612,542 for the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.

Retired Mills County Public Health Administrator Sheri Bowen addressed the supervisors along with Alex Heard, interim  director of MCPH. Bowen is volunteering her time to help seek a resolution with the board that would prevent a drastic reduction in MCPH services or closure of the agency that provides vital services to hundreds of Mills County residents.

Bowen shared information with a breakdown of services and employees that would be lost if county funding were cut to $155,000. Most of MCPH’s homecare health and nursing services would go away, along with several other family-centered services. Because Mills County has no hospital, MCPH is relied upon for many services not provided in other counties.

Heard noted that MCPH receives grant funding for many of the programs and services it provides, but those grants are contingent upon matching funds from the governmental agency.

Bowen said she’s well aware of the challenges the supervisors face this year in setting their budget, but she pleaded for the board to reconsider its funding. She said she believes the office could remain sustainable and most programs preserved with $500,000 of tax dollar funding.

The supervisors encouraged Heard and the MCPH staff to continue pursuing grants, but also agreed to take another look at funding for the office and its programs.

Supervisor Lonnie Mayberry suggested the board explore the possible use of its remaining ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to help preserve MCPH services.

“I would hate to see us lose services and close,” he said. “We want to keep as many of the services as we can and continue serving the community.”

The supervisors will make a decision on the budget in the coming weeks as the board finalizes its budget for FY25, which begins on July 1.


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