At its July 2 meeting, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Board of Health approved a 2015 budget of $30.5 million, down from approximately $31.2 million in 2014.
Since 2008, the Health Department budget has shrunk by more than $7 million. In 2013 and 2014, the agency reduced its workforce by 27 full-time equivalents (FTE). As the Department plans for the year ahead, its 2015 budget does not include a large reduction.
“Although we have some program changes because of grants that are ending, and we do not have money to do everything we want to, we are feeling optimistic and daring to think differently and creatively,” said Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, director of health.
The 2015 budget funds 3.6 more FTEs than the 2014 budget. In most cases, the additional FTEs will support potential revenue-generating and community outreach efforts. The Health Department is funding the added capacity with approximately $300,000 from savings.
Some programs, such as the Community Transformation Partnership, will lose FTE capacity. The five-year Community Transformation Grant will end two years earlier than expected because of changes in chronic disease prevention funding at the federal level. The $800,000 annual grant helped to break down barriers to better health through contracts with five community-based coalitions. The Department will continue to provide some support for chronic disease prevention policy efforts and to remain competitive for similar grants.
The Health Department sustained large cuts to its 2013 and 2014 budgets because of changes to the Title XIX Medicaid Administrative Match federal funding formula and the ending of a state grant program, closing some Family Support Centers and reducing services at others. Budget impacts in 2013 also resulted in reducing services in code enforcement services, Smoking in Public Places enforcement and tobacco use prevention efforts. Through these reductions, the Department shrank its number of FTEs from approximately 278 at the beginning of 2013 to just over 251 in 2014.