It will soon be easier for residents to make payments to the Union County Health Department (UCHD).
At Wednesday’s Board of Health meeting, the board approved a resolution to accept credit card payments over the phone.
UCHD previously accepted credit card payments, but only in-person.
“I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t remember the last time I mailed in a bill,” Health Commissioner Jason Orcena said.
The biggest concern in adding the new payment option is the potential for fraud to occur, according to Orcena.
However, he said fraudulent charges are largely avoidable because most charges are directly attached to a homeowner’s name and address.
He said fraudulent charges haven’t historically been a problem at UCHD and, despite this making them more likely, he still doesn’t foresee them being an issue.
“In all the time we’ve accepted them, I can’t recall a single fraudulent credit card charge,” Orcena said.
Aside from fraud, Orcena said an increased number of credit card charges could result in less revenue for UCHD since a percentage of every transaction goes to the credit card company.
While some UCHD service rates account for this, others currently do not, Orcena said.
The resolution to accept credit cards over the phone reserves the right to charge what he called a “customer service fee” to account for this discrepancy.
Although the fee hasn’t been put into place yet, Orcena specified that creating one is permissible in the state of Ohio, so the board would determine later if it would be necessary to maintain revenue.
In other business, the board:
– Waived the first reading of the Union County Local Sewage Treatment System Regulations.
The regulations clarify how often “unknown” sewage systems, those with no evidence of failure because there is no evidence of a system, should be inspected.
During the August Board of Health meeting, the group debated whether inspections should occur annually, as recommended by UCHD staff, or every five years, the standard in surrounding counties.
The draft stipulates that unknown systems will be inspected every five years, but if they are determined to be failing or creating a public health nuisance, inspections can be increased to annually or bi-annually.
Ultimately, Orcena said increasing the frequency of inspections would create an “unnecessary administrative burden” due to the staffing and time it would require.
– Waived the first reading of the 2019 Environmental Health Program Fees.
The fees were decided upon by the District Licensing Committee, but Orcena emphasized that the cost methodology for food service operation fees is mandated by the Ohio Department of Health.
He said this methodology is designed to recoup the previous year’s expenses and project some of the next year’s expense, so fees for 2020 depend primarily on 2018 expenses.
For this reason, fees have nearly doubled from last year, but the committee elected to set fee rates lower than the maximum allowed by the state’s cost methodology.
While the fees have increased significantly, Orcena said the rates are cyclical so the 2020 costs are similar to those in 2014.
– Approved the hiring of a new fiscal officer, Amy Hamilton.
Orcena said she has nearly a decade of experience in public finance, including six years within Union County, which will allow for a smooth transition.
Paul Bresson, UCHD’s previous fiscal officer, resigned to pursue a position closer to family, effective Sept. 11, 2019.
– Waived the fee for the Food Safety Basics Course for up to twelve individuals at the Ohio Reformatory for Women’s (ORW) ABC Nursery.
Shawn Sech, director of Health Promotions and Planning at UCHD, said the new nursery building at ORW includes a kitchen intended for mothers and nannies to cook meals for themselves and the children.
Since UCHD already partners with ORW’s ABC Nursery, she said it is likely ORW would request the fee to be waived, so UCHD is preemptively doing so.
Sech specified that the training costs $15 per person and is for the inmates, not the commercial license of ORW.
– Accepted the $145,000 Drug Overdose Prevention Grant from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).
Sech said the grant will be used to coordinate special projects with the Marysville Division of Fire for leave behind naloxone, a drug that reverses the effect of opioid overdoses, and care coordination for inmates upon discharge from West Central Correctional Facility.
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