BISBEE — Cochise County could receive around $170,000 from the federal Housing and Urban Development agency in a community development block grant (CDBG) to be used to benefit low income areas.
County Administrator Mike Ortega emphasized that the county used to receive more than $300,000, just a few years ago.
New guidelines require the supervisors to select just one project for consideration, said Marra. Currently, no projects have been suggested by a community or the supervisors.
These projects must meet one of the national objectives of serving low to moderate income areas, prevention or elimination of slums and blighted areas, or projects that would eliminate serious threat to human health and welfare, she said.
Supervisors Richard Searle, Ann English and Pat Call will hold a work session with county staff to go over possible projects prior to the second public hearing on the CDBG funds scheduled for the next meeting of the supervisors on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
The county health department may now charge people aged 19 years or older for screening for sexually transmitted diseases due to declining funding from the state.
Radi Ann Porter, Cochise Health and Social Services nursing director, told the supervisors, “We have received funds from the Arizona Department of Health Services for many years to provide screenings, laboratory testing, treatment and follow-up for primarily gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis for residents. In recent years, the funding has dramatically decreased while the demand for testing continues to increase.”
Though around $11,000 remains in the county program fund, Porter sees a time in the near future when its continuance would need to be supported through the county’s general fund. By assessing a $40 fee per test and with the use of a sliding scale so that people can pay what they can afford, the spread of these contagious diseases can continue to be held in check. It also allows testing of individuals with health insurance, but who may want privacy in such instances.
“The fee proposal is based on prevailing charges of other counties and allows services to continue to be provided free of charge for those under the age of 19 and those who report the inability to pay,” Porter said. “The anticipated income will help subsidize sexually transmitted disease services, but it is not anticipated to turn a profit.”
The supervisors approved the new fee unanimously.
At the suggestion of Searle, a consent item concerning a suggested agreement between the county health department and Fry’s Grocery Store to provide vaccinations or medications for the company’s employees and their families in the event of a medical emergency was removed from the agenda.
After the meeting, Searle explained that the county had a number of agreements in place with other governments and private entities to use locations for shelters in emergency situations, but this request was out of the ordinary.
English agreed that the county should not be providing medical assistance to just one private enterprise.
Call said that in an epidemic or some other health-related emergency it was important to have stores open for residents.
The matter may come back before the supervisors after more information has been received. said Searle.
In other business:
• Approved the rezoning request of Michael Jantz of Cochise to down-zone his 9.63 acres currently zoned SR-43 (single family residence on one acre) to RU-4 (single family residence on four acres).
• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Copper Queen Community Hospital in order to participate in a drug discount program as established in the Public health Services Act. Under the agreement, CQCH will be able to continue to provide low income individuals and families not covered under Medicare, Medicaid or the Arizona Health Cost Containment System with medicines at reduced costs.
• Elected English as chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors and Searle as vice-chairman.
• Accepted $9,500 in Homeland Security grants to the sheriff’s office.
• Approved intergovernmental agreements between the county health department and the Arizona Department of Health Services for $49,600 over five years for reproductive health services, $69,807 to continue tobacco use cessation programs and prevention over five years and $136,414 over five years for the teen pregnancy prevention program.