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Calloway County Board of Health sets 2023 tax rate

MURRAY – The last time the Calloway County Board of Health changed its tax rate was 1987, and at its regular quarterly meeting Tuesday (Aug. 22), the board unanimously agreed to stay the course this year.

As such, the 2023 tax rate for the Calloway County Public Health Taxing District remains 2.8 cents per $100 assessed value of both real and personal property and 3.1 cents per $100 assessed value of motor vehicles.

The decision came on the heels of Calloway County Health Department Director of Administrative Services Joe Crawford’s presentation of the financial reconciliation for fiscal year (FY) ’23. He reported CCHD’s total revenue for the year was $863,483, and it had $676,240 in expenditures. At the end of June, the health department had more than $4.6 million in holdings.

Calloway County Judge Executive Kenny Imes, who serves as board chair, asked Crawford if it was feasible to move some funds to a CD or money market account. A discussion ensued during which Crawford advised that he would need to check the terms of the agreement with First Financial Bank, who provides CCHD’s banking services, to be able to fully answer that question. 

 Dr. Charles Tucker, noting it is audit season, suggested getting an opinion from the accountants on how much money could be moved without creating any financial problems for the health department. Discussion continued briefly and ended with Imes asking Crawford to investigate and report back to the board at the next meeting.  

The meeting also included an unexpected discussion after Public Health Director Jamie Hughes advised of an uptick in possible rabies cases. He said rabies infections were ruled out for all of the individuals in questions; regardless, it prompted CCHD to try to remind the public of the dangers of animal bites and the importance of staying away from wild animals, mainly bats, raccoons and skunks.

“If it’s an animal that’s wild, leave it alone. Don’t pick up raccoons,” Hughes said. “We’re just trying to remind people to stay away from them and also reminding people that if your dog bites someone and they actually have to have (a vaccine after being bitten), that they could be responsible for paying for that. It’s just important to make sure they have their animals vaccinated.”

Hughes also noted increased interest in pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) vaccines for rabies from individuals who work directly with animals, and he anticipates that will grow as Murray State University will be requiring veterinary and pre-veterinary students to be immunized next year.

CCHD does not carry the vaccine because it is very expensive – around $350 per shot. At least two shots are required to complete the series; after the second dose, a titer test is performed to determine if a third shot is needed. Not all insurance companies cover the vaccine. For example, Hughes noted that he contacted CCHD’s health insurance provider and was told that it is not covered on their plans.

Hughes advised he contacted all of the local pharmacies; Walgreens is the only one who carries it, but it will cost around $440 per vaccine. The closest health department that carries it is the Pennyrile District Health Department.

Dr. Damon Eastwood, a veterinarian at Westside Veterinary Service, said that it is not required in his practice, but they do recommend it. In response to a question about how long immunity from the vaccine lasts, he shared that he received the vaccine when he was in vet school and got a booster around 15 years ago. He added that he had a titer test three or four years ago, which showed his immunity level was sufficient.

Tucker asked if the county’s animal control officers have received the PrEP vaccine, and several board members noted they should be. Calloway County Judge Executive Kenny Imes, who is also the chairman of the board, advised that he will find out if that could be covered under the state’s insurance plan.

CCHD has a new breastfeeding peer counselor, Caitlyn Williams, Hughes said during his clinic update. She is currently going through training, and it is anticipated that she will start seeing clients in October. Breastfeeding peer counselors work with women in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), providing support to those considering or are currently breastfeeding.

Hughes further advised there are currently 896 county residents participating in the WIC program, and the breastfeeding rate among eligible participants is 34.18%.

The Health Access Nurturing Development Series (HANDS) program has 21 families enrolled, and Hughes noted CCHD is receiving new referrals to the program daily. The 2023 Birthday Bash, an annual HANDS event, will be held at the Calloway County Public Library on Sept. 16 from 2-4 p.m. There will be cake, birthday presents, story time and a tour of the new library facility.

In other business, the board voted to create a grievance committee. Murray attorney William C. (Chip) Adams, III, was present at the meeting and advised that it would be prudent for the board to create the committee to address issues that arise between meetings without having to hold a special-called meeting. The board agreed, and Tucker, Eastwood, Robert Deitz and Ricky Stewart volunteered to be on the committee.

The board approved revisions to CCHD’s open records request policy. The revisions were not substantive, largely amounting to formatting changes and the name of a former public health director was replaced with Hughes’ name.

During the last meeting in May, the board elected to begin paying employees’ portions of health insurance premiums through the end of FY ’24. Tuesday, Hughes requested that it be extended through December 20, 2024; the board approved.

Hughes advised that Dr. Richard L. Vonnahme, a dentist at Taylor Family Dental, accepted the request to fill the open dentist position on the board, and the board approved the appointment. Hughes further advised that there is still an open seat for an optometrist. That seat can only be filled by a practicing doctor who is also a resident of Calloway County.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the health department and via Zoom. 

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.

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