The Scotland County Health Department has proposed a tax increase to voters of Scotland County on April 2, 2019. The district’s ballot issue proposes to increase the tax levy from $0.15 to $0.30 to help pay for maintenance of the county health center and operations of the facility and staff.

The Health Department has continually provided basic public health services to residents of Scotland County at the same .15 cent tax rate since 1979. The number of services provided as well as the number of residents served continues to expand.

The local health agency provides flu clinics, home health services and immunizations. Its health care providers perform pregnancy testing, cholesterol screening, lead testing, blood pressure screening and do blood draws while also screening blood sugars and hemoglobin. Urine testing and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment are also offered.

The health department staff offers toe nail trimming, and performs dressing changes. And they are not limited to the office, providing public health home visits as well.

The local health department administers the Women Infants and Children (WIC) nutritional program for mothers and their families. They also do car seat distributions and car seat inspections.

“The Health Department wants to continue to provide all the services, but greater local support is needed,” said administrator Margaret Curry.

She noted that of the services provided, only 15% of financial support comes from local tax revenue, with the remainder coming from competitive contracts and low fees for services. In proposing the 15-cent tax level increase the agency has looked at the rates of other health departments around us, the current deficits and the future need.

During the most recent recording period, the health department received more than 3,700 office visits. WIC is the biggest draw, with nearly 1,400 contacts. Immunizations and lab draws include more than 400 contacts each, with blood pressure checks just shy of 400.

The health department provided 327 birth and death certificates.

A total of 822 home visits were provided, including 415 skilled nursing visits and 407 therapy visits.

The health department also is responsible for environmental controls, providing inspections for daycares, lodging providers and food services and restaurants. In Scotland County that included more than 400 contacts.

The local agencies are also on the frontline in the battle against communicable diseases, monitoring for influenza and other disease outbreaks as well as investigations of animal bites, rabies, transmittable diseases and food-borne illnesses. Scotland County had 63 such investigations.

In addition to all of the health care services, the health department also plays an active roll in community grant writing offering support and affiliation for a number of community projects including the Scotland County Fitness Center, Tiger Trail, Scotland County Cancer Fund, Head Start and the community Kids Safety Day.

Proponents of the tax hike have stressed the need for services provided, balanced with what they describe as manageable tax figures.

Curry shared information from Property Tax 101, which says that Scotland County ranks 74th among Missouri’s 115 counties by median yearly property tax paid at $640. That falls below Adair County ($817), Putnam County ($792) and Clark County ($677) but above Knox County ($579) and Schuyler County ($530) in northeast Missouri.

The information site also notes that Scotland County ranks 29th with a 0.85% median property tax as a percentage of the home value, as the median property value in Scotland County is $64,700 compared to the Missouri median property value of $138,700.