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Public Health District presents budget to county; New is mental health crisis center program

Idaho County Courthouse

Photo by David Rauzi
Idaho County Courthouse

— A budget hearing for Idaho Public Health’s North Central District is coming up May 19, and according to the fiscal 2019 budget North Central District director Carol Moehrle presented to county commissioners Tuesday, May 1, Idaho County’s share of the district’s revenue would be about $129,000.

The district includes Clearwater, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties as well as Idaho County, and is funded largely through fees and donations ($401,000), state ($851,000) and county ($829,000) money.

The district’s 34 long-standing contract revenue operations range from adolescent pregnancy prevention ($30,000) to well drilling inspection ($7,000).

New for the 2019 budget year are two lines for a new mental health crisis center program, for which the legislature approved state funding this year. When the crisis center funding was approved, the Lewiston Tribune reported the Regional Crisis Response program is a partnership with rural hospitals throughout the five-county region, which “calls for 10 new crisis rooms to be set up at hospitals in Moscow, Lewiston, Orofino, Cottonwood and Grangeville.”

“The idea is that someone having a psychotic episode can come to the hospital voluntarily, be referred by family and friends, or be brought in by local law enforcement or emergency medical personnel,” the Tribune reported Feb. 24. “They’ll be evaluated by a trained clinician, have a risk assessment done and can stay in the crisis room for as many as 24 hours. After that, they can either be admitted to the hospital for longer-term care or go home with a treatment plan.”

The district budget includes $500,000 for establishing facilities at each of the hospitals and $223,000 for operations, including money for training the clinicians.

Idaho County Commission chairman Skip Brandt said he favored the increase Moehrle requested for the district, which would cost the county $129,217, which is $2,802 more than last year. Commissioner Denis Duman concurred with Brandt, and as a voting member of the district board, though the commission’s formal position is to be made at the May 17 budget hearing.

“I think it is a good organization,” Brandt said. “You can tell from the details they crunch things right down and there’s no slush.”

The public health district’s funding formula depends both on population and tax base, and according to the information presented to the commissioners, Idaho County’s population grew 213 – most in the district – and the county’s tax base grew by $14.1 million. During the same timeframe, Nez Perce County’s tax base grew by almost $300 million while its population grew by just 16, Moehrle said.


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