Spokane County helps to fund the Spokane Regional Health District. (The county commissioners and their appointees comprise six of the district’s 12-member Board of Health). Over the last 10 years, the health district allocations have dangerously changed.
The 2011 allocation from the Spokane County commissioners to the Spokane Regional Health District’s budget was the last one voted on by a Democratic commissioner (Bonnie Mager, in 2010). It was the highest amount allocated annually to the regional health district in inflation-adjusted spending power in the last 10 years.
Since then, under our all-Republican commissioners, the county’s contribution to the regional health district budget has been significantly cut twice. The most recent cut occurred in late 2017 (for the 2018 calendar year), after Mary Kuney was appointed as a commissioner.
A Spokesman-Review article on the 2018 budget cut had this quote from then-health district administrator Torney Smith, “Our role is to protect the health of the community, and this makes it harder to do that.”
Smith was also quoted in the article as saying:
“While the county’s contribution is a relatively small piece of the health district’s budget, Smith said it’s one of few “flexible” funding sources that can be used for epidemiology work, such as monitoring the spread of the flu virus and studying the prevalence of diabetes.“
Had we simply maintained the 2011 allocation amount (and kept pace with inflation over the years) the health district would have had over $1.2 million more than the $2 million allocated by the county for 2020. That’s a lot of extra funding that could have been used for “epidemiology work.”
Elections matter. Especially during the worst pandemic in the last 100 years.
Ted and David believe in public health and will restore the health district’s funding to its 2011 adjusted-for-inflation amount.
Image from Spokane Rising Facebook post, August 6, 2020.