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The Jefferson County Health Department recently approved an $8,399,344 budget for 2021, which is $1,039,676 higher than last year’s $7,359,668 budget.

Most of those extra expenses are related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar said.

“The biggest change in the budget year over year is the anticipated costs due to COVID-19 and not having a clear idea of any funding that may become available to assist in those expenses,” she said. “We are still waiting to hear how the anticipated federal response funding will be distributed to the state and local governments. At this point, we have prepared the budget with the assumption we will not have additional funding available.”

The Health Department is expected to bring in $8,399,344 in revenue and spend the same amount this fiscal year, which runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, according to budget documents.

The department’s top two sources of revenue this year include the county health property tax, which will bring in an estimated $3,788,985, as well as federal contracts and fees, which will bring in a projected $1,636,852. Those were also the top two revenue sources for the 2020 budget.

The 2021 budget calls for the Health Department to spend $1,179,869 in medical supplies, which is more than twice the $477,741 spent on medical supplies last year.

Vollmar said the $702,128 increase is due to the Health Department’s commitment to COVID-19 testing and flu testing.

Vollmar said $511,680 is budgeted for medical supplies, which includes $129,600 for flu tests and $177,600 for COVID-19 testing. She said the remaining $204,480 is for lab supplies, additional tests, other testing supplies and incidentals.

“It (the budget for medical supplies) is also due to anticipated increased costs for PPE (personal protection equipment) and anticipated increased costs for custodial supplies needed to keep buildings and mobile units clean and sanitary,” she said.

Vollmar said $194,326 is budgeted for custodial supplies and other items for sanitizing buildings.

Another large increase in expenses for 2021 is for telephone and telecommunications because the Health Department had to upgrade its internet and telephone capabilities, Vollmar said.

“COVID has required the ability to create a mobile platform for our operations. In order to do this, we required more robust and redundant internet connectivity at each of our office locations,” she said.

This year the Health Department has budgeted $192,702 for telephones and telecommunications, which is $92,102 more than in 2020.

Vollmar said the Health Department also plans to buy a new vector truck, which is used for mosquito spraying, and has budgeted $25,000 for that purchase.

This year the department expects to spend $5,972,769 for salaries and benefits, which is $436,702 more than last year’s $5,536,067. Vollmar said the increased cost will cover more employees, as well as raises for employees.

In 2020, the department, which currently has 90 employees, had budgeted for 89 employees and the department has budgeted for 99 this year.

In addition, Vollmar said all employees who are eligible for a raise will receive one on July 16, after annual evaluations are completed. She said the majority of employees receive a raise every year and those raises are based on completion of yearly goals and annual evaluations.

Vollmar said the maximum raise for an employee in 2021 will be $1 per hour, but the average will be about 92 cents due to seasonal staff, temporary staff and new staff, who would receive smaller raises.

Several expenses are expected to be lower this year, including capital projects, travel and equipment.

Vollmar said those areas were cut because of anticipated costs for COVID-19.

The capital fund projects had $100,000 budgeted in 2020, and in 2021 only $25,000 has been budgeted.

The Health Department budgeted $47,708 for travel in 2020 and reduced that to $24,071 for this year. The Health Department budgeted $261,653 for equipment in 2020 and reduced it to $81,362 for this year.