A new projected budget in the amount of $537,179 was unanimously approved By members of the McDuffie County Health Board during their meeting last Wednesday.
The figures are subject to change and likely will between now and the time the new fiscal year starts in July, said McDuffie County Health Department Facility Administrator Virginia Bradshaw.
Already there have been cutbacks in the size of the staff at the local health department, including reducing the nursing staff down By 1½ persons.
One of the full-time nurses will be transferring to the Warren County Health Department, while the other nurse will work only part-time hours. Those are the only staff changes that have been made up to this point.
Across the state, health departments are being forced to make similar cutbacks - one reason being a lack of nurses, Mrs. Bradshaw said. She was commended By the board chairwoman for what was described as her "creative" ways of cutting costs.
"We appreciate what you've done to save the county money," said Robin Dudley, who recently was elected chairwoman of the county health board. "You've helped save this county a lot of money."
Meanwhile, District 6 Administrator Barbara Spires said down the road, "you could be looking at some lean times. This fiscal year, we've done the best we could to balance the budget."
Local health board members may still need to address matters concerning staff from time-to-time, having such knowledge as to what jobs they actually perform and the time it takes to do those jobs.
In other counties, the situation is similar, explained Ms. Spires.
For example, one other county already has seen its staff reduced and there are between three and four other counties being looked at for the same reasons, she added.
Ms. Spires said she could not tell local health board officials that the matter of scaling back "won't still be back on the table" for 2009 budget discussions.
In addition, she pointed out, that an audit might possibly be in the future works for the entire state's public health system. Already, there's been talk of this happening, she said.
"I welcome them to come down," said Ms. Spires.
The projected budget was approved following motions By Vice-Chairwoman Dorothy Robinson and Dr. Daryl Wiley. Other health board members in attendance included: Mrs. Dudley, Joanette Terry and Dr. Mark Petersen. Two of the board members were absent, Charlie Newton and Alton Belton.