Mount Vernon News

By Mount Vernon News
September 26, 2012 7:44 am EDT


MOUNT VERNON — Knox County voters will decide in November whether to replace a 0.4-mill property tax, five-year levy with a 0.8-mill levy for the Knox County Health Department. The replacement and increase are requested after 24 years of voter-approved taxes at the 0.4 millage.

“One of the main points we are trying to express in promoting the levy,” said Health Department information officer Pam Palm, “that while we are asking for an increase, it is the first request for a millage increase in 24 years. And of all the other social service agencies who receive funding via real estate taxes, we are still one of the lowest levies on the books.”

A renewal brings in the same amount of money that an expiring levy generates and will not raise property taxes.

A replacement levy, which is what will be on the ballot, generates more money because it takes the place of a levy that was collected on the basis of old property values. It raises the taxes to reflect the current market value of the property.

Health department services are funded through grants, county and city subsidies, fees to clients, and currently, the existing 0.4-mill property tax levy. According to Health Commissioner Julie Miller, the health department levy helps to subsidize the medical and dental clinics and home health services when needed, as well as, anything in environmental health not covered by fees.

In the departments 2011 financial summary, $2,908,269 was reported in total revenue, while total expenses were $2,983,295. Their expenses exceeded revenue last year by $75,026. Second to personnel salaries, which account for 48 percent of the expenses, benefits and contract services account for another 29 percent.

The Health Department provides many public health services including immunizations; daily medical and dental clinics; home health services; control of communicable diseases; mosquito control; and food, pool, water, and school inspections. Their mission is to promote personal and public health as well as healthy environments.

The replacement levy would cost $25 a year for a $100,000 home, for five years. It would generate approximately $930,100 a year, 26 percent of the health department’s annual budget.

Contact Rhonda Bletner

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