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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RTM Committee Okays Health District Budget Restoration

UPDATE The Representative Town Meeting (RTM) Finance Committee voted 6-3 tonight to recommend restoration of $13,793 cut by the Board of Finance from the 2010-11 requested budget of the Westport Weston Health District.WestportNow.com Image
Mark A. R. Cooper: cuts will affect emergency response. File photo

The vote followed a warning from the District’s director that unless there is restoration of funds cut from its budget, there will likely be a series of health-related repercussions affecting Westport beaches, schools, farmers markets, septic systems, and the District’s response to emergencies.

Mark A. R. Cooper outlined the possible effects in a letter to Michael Rea, chairman of the RTM Finance Committee.

Cooper said the cut will actually mean a hit of $19,115 to the District budget because by state statute, the District would have to simultaneously reduce Weston’s budget contribution by $5,323.

He said the District staff currently helps the state collect water for testing for Westport beaches, but the budget cut could affect this as there is no requirement that the District do this.

Currently, all school kitchens are inspected a minimum of four times a year, Cooper said. Budget cuts are likely to reduce this to twice a year.

District staff monitors and inspects septic system and well site construction activities closely but would be forced to reduce such activities to the state-required minimum, he said.

Currently, staff inspects and permits approximately 64 cosmetology facilities in Westport, Cooper said, but there is no state requirement that this be done.

“Deeper cuts to staff and/or services will result in a reduction in responsiveness to the public’s expectations, inability to meet state mandates in a timely manner, inability to do research for new insights and innovative solutions to local health problems, and reduced capacity to respond to emergencies,” he said.

Cooper added: “Clearly, $19,115 is not going to solve the District’s financial issues, but it begins to address the problem and helps preserve the District’s core competencies.”

The RTM Finance Committee recommendation to restore now goes to the full RTM which will meet on May 3 and 4 for its budget review.

The full RTM must vote by a 70 percent majority of those present and voting to approve a restoration request.

The RTM’s Health and Human Services Committee had previously also voted to recommend restoration.

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Posted 04/27/10 at 08:41 PM  Permalink



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