The Cincinnati Department of Health plans to add 16 posts to the budget for the next fiscal year. Health Commissioner Melba Moore presented the department’s budget request to the city council’s budget and finance committee on Monday.
Moore says there are some new positions related to the pandemic, such as an environmental security specialist.
“This was an emergency,” said Moore. “We have to be able to be nimble, we have to be able to get up quickly to defuse the situation. So we need someone else to help us in our emergency area.”
Other positions include two epidemiologists, a psychiatrist, public health educators, behavioral medicine specialists, a dentist, and a dental hygienist.
“Last but not least, we learned that you have to keep the training going,” said Moore. “A lot of people talk about the hesitation about vaccines in our African American community, in our color communities.”
According to Moore, her department lost 28 employees in the cost-saving early retirement program last year.
“I know you know we didn’t stop our other program operations in this pandemic,” said Moore. “We are continuing this and focusing on addressing COVID.”
Moore is also calling for $ 3 million annually for building maintenance and $ 1.5 million for telemedicine equipment.
The health department is one of many to ask for an increase during budget discussions, but city administrators expect at least some cuts to be needed.
See the full budget presentation below (story continues):
According to director Jerry Wilkerson Jr., recent winter storms have weighed on the Department of Public Services’ budget. He says the cost of running it in winter will be much higher this year.
“Salt and chemicals on the streets and plowing are ripping open the streets,” Wilkerson told councilors on Monday. “So now we are dealing with potholes, we are dealing with line painting.”
Wilkerson also says that what might appear as “low hanging fruit” in a tight budget year is actually crucial: exercise.
“I just hope that as we try to cut budgets, we always keep in mind that training is urgently needed and needs to be on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Budget discussions will continue over the next few months before the city council votes on a final version by the end of June.
The full budget presentation can be found below:
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