City Council Not Ready to Increase Health Department Funding
At their bi-weekly work session, Casper City Council decided to not approve a request by the Casper-Natrona County Health Department to increase their funding from $540,000 to $650,000.
Health Department director Anna Kinder presented her case for why it needed the increase in funding to address a number of shortcomings.
One of those issues was a lack of funding for a state-mandated maternity care which the Health Department has been struggling to fund.
Council member Amber Pollock said it was incredibly important for the city to provide that funding.
Pollock said the Health Department provides a vital service to the community and that if the city doesn't pay for the service now, it will be paying more later down the line.
Council member Khrystyn Lutz had a similar view, and said that even for someone like her, who has enough money to pay for costly procedures, it was a difficult to pay for childbirth, and said the rest of the council have a hard time imaging what childbirth is like, as they don't have to deal with it in the same way.
Council member Bruce Knell said that if the city is going to be giving a funding increase to the Health Department, there should be a public comment period so that the council can get a better understanding of what the community thinks.
Steve Cathey said he also hoped to see a more detailed breakdown of the Health Departments budget so that the council can have a better idea where the money would be going.
Council member Bruce Knell said he was worried that if the city steps in this time to cover the Health Departments budget this year, the city will end up having having to give money every year, something he said the city will have a hard time affording.
City Manager Carter Napier said that the $650,000 for the Health Department was a big ask, and that it would difficult for the city to find the funds.
The council ended up agreeing not to provide funding for the Health Department at the meeting and instead to hear back from Kinder at the next work session on May 11 with more budget details.
The council members agreed that funding the Health Department is important, as it provides an essential service to the community, they just were unable to agree on how much it needs.