Council endorses letter protesting budget bill

SALINEVILLE- Village council voted unanimously to lend their support to a letter composed by Columbiana County Health Commissioner Wesley Vins, listing the Health Department’s grievances with Ohio House Bill 59.

Mayor Mary Smith read aloud a memo from Vins to area officials seeking the support of the Health Department in asking for several changes to HB59. The bill is Ohio’s operating budget for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years which was presented by Governor John Kasich in February.

A copy of Vin’s letter to State Representative Nick Barborak was furnished to each council member at Monday night’s meeting. The letter states that local villages and townships share inside millage with the local board of health and would therefore feel the effects of ‘unnecessary financial burdens’ mandated by the new budget.

The letter asks for the removal of multiple lines within HB59 which the Board of Health believes would be detrimental to both the Board of Health and area villages. Several lines of HB59 requiring boards of health to obtain a $20,000 accreditation to be eligible for state funding appeared to be the central focus of the Board of Health’s concerns.

“The accreditation fees of over $20,000 (local taxes) for Columbiana County would be sent out of state and frontline health workers would be needlessly redirected from immunization, disease investigations and food inspections to create accreditation documents.” The letter lists a total of 6 lines which the Health Board requested to be removed from the bill, including a requirement to have health workers complete 8 hours of continued education annually and a requirement to have food sanitarians be FDA certified.

Some council members had yet to fully read the letter but were swayed to make a motion lending their support to Vin’s letter by other council members who had.

“I think our government can’t balance their budget so they look for ways to get extra money, and they’re going to charge the health agencies a fee that is probably close to their entire budget for the year,” said Councilman Tom Hays.

“I don’t know what the Governor is thinking,” said Councilman Rick Beadle, agreeing that he did not like the Governor’s budget either. “He’s taking all this tax money and not doing anything for the people.”

In other board business:

*Council announced there will be a special meeting of the Properties Committee at 6:30 p.m. April 14

*Council announced there will be a special meeting of the Safety Committee April 8 at 6:30 p.m. and a special meeting of the Streets Committee directly afterwards.

* Head of the Properties committee, Zeb Locklear, announced that village residents interested in heating their homes with natural gas through Columbia Gas should contact a village official as soon as possible.

*Council announced that the village Spring Clean-up and Tire collection is coming up and that a date for both will be set soon.