This is the third installment of former McHenry County Board member and candidate Ersel Schuster’s analysis of county government:
Picking up where we left off; this installment includes an introduction to the McHenry County Department of Health. Following the introduction is example “I” from “A Document Proposing Reductions for McHenry County government.” This installment is the first of four examples where reductions and/or elimination in Dept. of Health services could be realized. The county board has ignored the possibilities for saving millions in tax dollars.
To obtain any of the Reference Documents, email: [email protected]. Indicate which of the documents you would like.
Installment III – Department 51: McHenry County
Department of Health:
Funded By: General Fund – (Attachment D)
Mission Statement: The Mission of McHenry County Department of Health is to prevent disease and promote health and safety. This shall be accomplished by investigating, assessing and implementing solutions to Health and Safety needs through collaborative community involvement, education and data collection.
Department Created By: Resolution of the McHenry County Board on April 12, 1966
Classification: Public Health and Welfare
Background: The Public Health Department was established by County Board resolution on April 12, 1966. The McHenry County Board immediately appointed a Board of Health that met for the first time on April 27, 1966. Initial services offered to McHenry County residents were home health visits by the department’s registered nurses. The department has grown from a handful of employees to over 131 full and part-time employees providing a multitude of comprehensive public health services that have now made McHenry County a healthier and more desirable place to live.
Functions: Functions include “Health Administration,” “Public Health Nursing,” “Environmental Health,” and “Veterinary Public Health (Animal Control & Adoption).
Controlling statute: “55 ILCS 5/5-25001”
Mandated components include (last available information from the 2013 budget (Attachment E):
- “Administration Division: Public Information: 55 ILCS 5/5 25013
- Administration Division: Fiscal Operation: 55 ILCS 5/5 25013
- Administration Division: Human Resources: 55 ILCS 5/5 25013
- Public Health Nursing Division:
- Early Identification of health concerns of children up to 3 yrs. of age: 55 ILCS 5/5 25013
- Environmental Health: Food Sanitation: 55 ILCS 5/5 25013
- Environmental Health: Private Sewage: 55 ILCS 5/5 25013
- Environmental Health: Drinking water: 55 ILCS 5/5 25013”
Number of department employees: – “131 full and part time employees”
Population served by department programs; – General population, urban and rural.
- It is safe to say the mandated components of the health department, administration and environmental are used to cover a multitude of activities/services. The question becomes, which of these activities/services are true mandates and which are provided for other reasons?
- Under direction of the McHenry Board of Health (BOH), a non-elected board, growth of the department today, proposes a 2015 budget for Personnel Services (salaries only), at a cost $5,376,980 for the 131 employees. In practice, McHenry County Board Members, elected officials, defer to the BOH on their requests.
- We would like to commend Health Department Director Hill for his current review and elimination of staff positions where a grant had ended. It is good to report this long standing policy is finally being enforced. Thank you, Director Hill.
- Addressing specific areas for discussion regarding the Health Department, the following 4 “sample” department components have been singled out for review, reduction, and/or elimination. Suggested is the elimination of programs where there is duplication of services; where those services are provided by other government entities, social service agencies and/or the private sector.
ONE (1) of FOUR (4) HEALTH DEPARTMENT –
Solid Waste Management Program:
PERFORMANCE INDICATORS: (Attachment D) 2013 2014 2015
Actual Mid-Yr. Projected
“Environmental-Solid Waste Activities 1,295 1,300 1,300”
PROGRAM (Attachment F): “As of December 1, 2008 the Solid Waste Management Program for McHenry County has been relocated from the Department of Planning and Development to the Environmental Health Division of the McHenry County Department of Health. The goals of the Solid Waste Management Program are to assure the proper handling of solid waste to prevent public health concerns and to maximize the reduction, reuse and recycling of solid waste generated in McHenry County.”
- “Overview of Solid Waste Program [PDF]
- Solid Waste Management Plan
- Residential Recycling Ordinance [PDF]
- Municipal Waste Haulers Ordinance [PDF]
- Open Burning Ordinance
- Franchising of Solid Waste
- Solid Waste Stream Analysis
- McHenry County Green Awards
- Solid Waste Advisory Committee
- Municipal Waste Haulers List [PDF]
- Solid Waste Hauler Fee Schedule [PDF]
- Home Composting[PDF]”
- The Solid Waste Department came into being in the late 1990’s when several landfill siting proposals were being addressed by standing “mandate” of the McHenry County
Solid Waste Program (page 2) (Attachment G) states;
“The Residential Recycling Ordinance and Municipal Waste Hauler Licensing Ordinance require residential recycling and create mechanisms to gather data regarding volume of waste generated and recycling rates for long range solid waste management planning.”
- While noble in nature, this mandate is not enforceable as intended. To our understanding the best the department can do is to record recycling numbers provided by the waste haulers. In all cases, this is subjective and questionable. This is not to say the “guesstimates,” provided by waste haulers, should be ignored. They must however be evaluated to determine their actual value.
- It does call into question the rationale behind forcing the haulers to provide such information. All such requirements / mandates cause taxpayers to cover the county’s costs (from one funding source or another) and it also increases the cost of solid waste hauling services by placing mandates on haulers in lieu of license approval.
- In the end, taxpayers get hit several times with mandates of ordinances whether local, state or federal governments. With new technologies and methods of handling solid waste, we must determine whether or not a need exists for the program.
- Assign the McHenry County Health & Human Services Committee the task of placing on the table, for full review, all services of this division. This should include looking for duplication of services; new alternatives as well as determining the program’s successes and failures.
- A new set of eyes must consider the rationale for continuing the division as it currently exists; and/or, how it can be reduced to a more effective and limited role. The role of the division’s “education” component should also be reviewed with objective persons who have no vested interest in the outcome of a review.
- Under the “Administrative” mandate, the solid waste division should be scaled back to record keeping and dissemination of critical health issues.