Back in 2006, the Marion County Health Department passed an ordinance pertaining to regulation of confined animal feeding operations.

Back in 2006, the Marion County Health Department passed an ordinance pertaining to regulation of confined animal feeding operations. The passage of that ordinance brought on a firestorm of opposition by some of the farm community in general and the Marion County Farm Bureau in particular. As a result of this conflict, the Farm Bureau put together a slate of candidates for the Health Department Board of Directors and got them elected with only 1,700 votes in an off cycle election with the usual voter apathy which always happens in these type elections. These new directors said openly they were there for one purpose: to repeal the ordinance.

And they did so.

It is now 2015, so perhaps an evaluation of their accomplishments is in order.

As I said they repealed the CAFO ordinance. As of the end of this month, the Home Health Division of the Health Department is being eliminated. The number of Health Department employees has been reduced by roughly 50 percent. To my knowledge there has not been another election of directors since 2006 (vacancies have been filled by appointment with no requirement the appointees face election). So, all in all, it appears the Health Department is on a downhill trajectory.

If you pay Real Estate and/or Personal property taxes in Marion County, you financially support the Health Department and we all should be asking questions.

Why does the Health Department not publish a detailed financial report at the end of each year — county government does.

Why is the Health Department seemingly exempt from normal election procedures?

Because local media does not often cover the activities of the Board, the Health Department seems to operate in a vacuum — Why is this? I suggest it is way beyond time for Marion County residents to take a hard look at this taxpayer supported entity. I suspect there is room for improvement.

 

—Glenn R. Webb, Hannibal