Director warns budget cuts will reduce agencies effectiveness - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Director warns budget cuts will reduce agencies effectiveness

From spraying for mosquitoes to fighting the flu, the Memphis-Shelby County health department spends a lot of time and money keeping us healthy. But the department's budget has been getting dangerously frail according to Director Yvonne Madlock.

"What it really takes is a solid core public health department and our core is getting very, very thin," she said. 

The Health Department adds a 75 cent fee onto all MLGW bills to pay for mosquito prevention. So far the fee has raised three million dollars in its first year. Madlock said she has cut staff over the last few years and is relying more and more on grants, which are dwindling.

"We will always strive to move resources and do what we can in an emergency," she said. "But it would also be unfair to delude the public that we are as prepared as we could or should be."

Madlock gets about 11 million a year from both Memphis and Shelby County. Shelby County commissioners took in her warning at a budget meeting Wednesday, but David Lillard said the department needs to look elsewhere for an injection of funds.

"We need to be making it a priority to get fees increased so we can fund further environmental inspectors, supervisors or whatever is required," Lillard said.

Madlock said her next budget buster could be bird flu. "We are in the process of building a plan, writing a plan, working with partners to make sure that plan is comprehensive and includes for them," she said. 

It's a plan Madlock warns could cost the county cash it doesn't have.

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