County Creates New Board of Health

A new Washtenaw County board of health was created following action at the July 9, 2014 county board of commissioners meeting. Initial approval had been given on May 21, 2014. Rolland Sizemore Jr. cast the sole dissenting vote on both occasions.

A description of the board’s duties was outlined in a staff memo that accompanied the original May 21 resolution:

The purpose and role of a Washtenaw County Board of Health will be to identify public health problems and concerns in the community, establish health priorities, and advise the Board of Commissioners and the Health Department on issues and possible solutions. The Board of Health will serve as advocates and educators for public health services and policies. The Board of Health will provide oversight and guidance to the Health Department, and will recommend a program of basic health services to the Board of Commissioners.

The new Board of Health will have the authority to hear appeals and requests for variances from the local public health and environmental regulations established under the Public Health Code. The Board of Health will have the authority to hear appeals regarding the suspension or revocation of food service licenses.

The board will consist of 10 members, including one ex-officio representative from the county board of commissioners. According to the staff memo, appointments could represent “health service delivery (physicians, dentists, mental health practitioners, administrators); environmental health and conservation, land use planning, food service and nutrition, academia, K-12 education, philanthropy, social service delivery, legal services, and consumers of public health services.”

Appointments will be made at a later date. Members will be compensated for attending each meeting. The total cost for the health board, including in-kind staff support, is estimated at $19,000 annually.

The resolution passed on July 9 also dissolved two existing boards: (1) the environmental health code appeals board/public health advisory committee; and (2) the hearing board of the health department food service regulation. Duties of those entities will be taken on by the new board of health.

This brief was filed from the county administration building at 220 N. Main. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]