Washoe County Health Department Takes Pay Cut

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The Washoe County Health department is facing a one-million dollar budget shortfall for the next two years.

The loss stems from a reduction in sales tax revenue.

It looks like that struggling housing market has done it again. Since homes aren't selling, neither are home furnishings...or cars, or other big-ticket items that generate sales tax.

Nearly half of Washoe County's Health budget depends on sales tax to survive...so if we're not buying as much nowadays, something else has to go. The District Health Department sat down to figure out just where it could cut corners, meaning, what services it could discontinue.

"We'd be looking at things like family planning, not mandated, our STD program, not mandated. We'd be looking at possible WIC programs," said Dr. Mary Anderson, MD, MPH, District Health Manager.

And without those services, some say the community would suffer.

"I think that's scary. They could have to deal with a lot of unexpected pregnancies without those facilities," said Paige Pulley of Spanish Springs.

But it's not just medical clinics that could feel the million dollar budget cut, it's also the hundreds of other programs the health department coordinates.

"We offer programs in areas a lot of people don't even think about. Food inspection, air quality, wells, septic tanks, community health, etc," said Anderson.

So if you ever eat in a local restaurant...or take a breath of our local air, you too, could feel the strain.

We asked a few locals what they though.

"It affects everybody. We all breath. We're standing here breathing right now."

"Mosquito abatement is important because I live out on a ranch and I have lots of ponds."

"Restaurants. We all use restaurants. I just came out of the Lake Bar and Grill. They have to adhere to the rules."

"With so many duties, I don't understand the cut. I hadn't heard of it."

Ready or not, the budget cut is coming...and health officials say it could last for at least two years...or as long as that pesky mortgage mess continues to mold our economy.

"We probably will see people start to stabilize. Right now there is some reaction, so people are clamping down in fear. That should stabilize fairly soon," said Melanie Purcell, County Budget Manager.