Saginaw County voters to decide millage to battle coronavirus, other diseases

Why is coronavirus testing in the U.S. still a debacle? Experts say it’s because there’s no federal plan.
Why is coronavirus testing in the U.S. still a debacle? Experts say it’s because there’s no federal plan.(Source: CNN)
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 1:29 PM EDT
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SAGINAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Voters will decide a new millage request in November for Saginaw County to raise nearly $2.5 million annually for public health work.

The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to place a 0.48-mill request on the Nov. 3 ballot for the Saginaw County Health Department. The funds would be used to continue monitoring and providing contact tracing during the coronavirus pandemic in the county, along with other diseases.

Some of the funding also would go toward the health department’s other work inspecting restaurants, rural residential water wells, swimming locations, hearing and vision screenings for students and managing the WIC program.

Health Officer Chris Harrington said the department receives funding from federal, state and county tax dollars, but all three sources of funding have been slashed over the past two decades. Michigan ranks ninth lowest with $13 spent per person on public health.

“Safeguarding our Saginaw communities from infectious diseases like COVID-19, hepatitis A, influenza and others is something we know people want from the Saginaw County Health Department,” Harrington said.

The millage would cost less than $25 per year for the owner of a home with a taxable value of $50,000.

The ballot question reads:

“For the purpose of reinforcing public health infrastructure and restoring capacity; to ensure adequate staffing, data analysis and reporting, critical technology needs, broader capacity to provide direct services, adequate facilities, resource readiness for emergencies, and continued communication with health partners, county leaders, and the public, shall the County of Saginaw increase in the limitation of the total amount of general ad-valorem taxes which may be imposed for all purposes upon all taxable real and personal property in Saginaw County, as authorized by Article 9, Section 6 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, as amended, and levy up to .48 Mill ($0.48 per $1,000) of taxable valuation on such property as finally equalized during the years 2020 – 2029, both inclusive, which if approved and levied in its entirety is estimated to raise $2,435,478 in the first year.”

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