The El Paso County Board of Health approved the 2019 budget for El Paso County Public Health on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at its regular monthly meeting. The vote was unanimously in favor of the $17.1 million budget.

The new budget includes the use of $650,000 from the agency’s reserve funds, and an increase in support from El Paso County of $200,000 for 2019. An ongoing increase in County support is included in the County’s five-year financial forecast. Those projected increases would result in $1 million in additional support by 2023. The use of Public Health’s reserve fund would gradually decrease each year.

“We are grateful for the continued support of the Board of County Commissioners, and their commitment to protecting the health and safety of the residents of El Paso County,” said Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health’s Director.

“This decision allows us to continue providing important public health services for El Paso County, as well as strategically plan for the future,” said Board of Health President Kari Kilroy.
El Paso County Public Health presented the agency’s critical needs to El Paso County Commissioners this fall, outlining the increasing demand for services, increased population, and funding challenges resulting in a diminishing capacity to respond to emerging issues. It is the first time Public Health has requested an increase in County support since 2011.

The additional funding will support hiring of up to 10 new staff positions to address emerging and chronic disease prevention activities. The positions align with the agency’s five-year strategic plan, which aims to build strong leadership and workforce, strategic partnerships, core funding, timely and locally relevant data, and foundational infrastructure.

“These positions are critical to maintaining a high-performing accredited local public health agency, and addressing mandated core services,” Wheelan said.

El Paso County Public Health is required by state law to provide core public health services, including: administration and governance, assessment, planning and communication, communicable disease, prevention, investigation and control, emergency preparedness and response, environmental health, prevention and population health promotion, and vital records and statistics.

Public Health is also required to conduct a community health assessment and community health improvement plan every five years. The priorities identified in those plans are to reverse the upward trend of obesity and decrease the incidence of poor mental health and substance use and misuse in El Paso County. These priorities were identified through a comprehensive data review by the Healthy Community Collaborative, convened by El Paso County Public Health.

El Paso County Public Health receives approximately $900,000 in annual state funding, however this does not cover all of public health’s core services. Seventy-two percent of Public Health’s funding comes from grants, contracts and fees, and is restricted to specific services, or time-limited.