In response to Ohio legislative changes, members of the Holmes County District Board of Health agreed to discontinue the local manufactured home program and rescind the associated fees.
On Sept. 10, House Bill 47 went into effect, transferring oversight authority of mobile home parks from the Ohio Department of Health to a state manufactured homes commission, according to Holmes County Health Commissioner Dr. D.J. McFadden, who said the commission assumes oversight on Dec. 31.
Despite the change, health districts had the right of first refusal and could opt to continue provision of inspection services.
However, McFadden said, "when we looked at what we could expect, it became apparent it would not be economically feasible for us to continue the inspections and use sanitarians at the rate we pay our sanitarians."
Historically, the manufactured homes budget has never had a large surplus or a large deficit for the health district, although it is right now a couple hundred dollars in the red, said McFadden.
With the local inspection program dissolved, the work will be handled by the state, which will contract out for local services, said McFadden, noting the change has some local operators concerned.
Nevertheless, he said, it was not only a fiscal but a common sense decision made by the board of health. "There are some of the activities we took part in as inspectors that the public would wonder why public health is looking at things like lighting and driveways."
The health department "will continue to investigate any nuisance complaints at mobile home parks, and we will continue to do that without additional pay," McFadden said.
Also at the meeting, the board agreed to hire Matt Falb to fill the newly created position of program director.
The job was born out of "some of the work that's been coming out of the futures process," said McFadden, explaining, "we were concerned we did not have a person who could focus their attention on some of the work being asked of us as far as accreditation and also some of the quality assurance pieces that were being asked of us."
"I realize those are roles I could have taken on myself, but feel I stretched enough being the medical director for the district and health commissioner," said McFadden, who added Falb, who previously left a position as Holmes County's epidemiologist for a position at the state, would be able also to assume some oversight in the department of epidemiology.
Falb was one of two candidates who progressed to the final stage of the process and was chosen "largely because of his leadership work in public health in the State of New Mexico," said McFadden.
Falb also will assume some of the duties previously assigned to the deputy health commissioner, a position that was eliminated, due to budgetary constraints, in spring 2009.
The board also reviewed the proposed food program fees for the coming year. Varying by size of facility and risk level, the fees went up by no more than $10 each, and in many cases were less than the 2012 fees and the maximum allowable.
"They're based on the required state of Ohio cost methodology, which takes into consideration the time we put into the program, equipment purchased for program and support costs up to 30 percent," McFadden said.
Based on what is allowable, McFadden said, recommendations are based on the budget and what is needed to support the program.
"Rather than just jump to the maximum, if our budget doesn't require us to raise fees to the maximum, we try not to. People are trying to make a living here. We're trying to be fiscally responsible, but also to not have the government overcharge the community."
In old business, the health district has started accepting bids for the job to clean up a nuisance property located at 7971 Washington Township 470.
Throughout the summer, the board of health continued hearings on the property, owned by Jonnie Bond and Ari Jolovitz, because significant progress was being made by the owners to remedy the solid waste nuisance.
Progress, however, has stalled, and there has been a "significant backslide," said McFadden, who said more solid waste has started to collect at the property and the leniency of the board has been beyond tested.
At the October meeting of the board, department officials were authorized to advertise for bids for cleaning of the property should the owners fail to meet a deadline that fell between the two meeting dates.
That process has begun, and the cost of the cleanup, McFadden said, will be attached to the property's taxes.
The next meeting of the Holmes County District Board of Health is scheduled for Dec. 21 at 8:30 a.m.
Reporter Christine L. Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.