GRAFTON, W.Va. — Voters in Taylor County will see six important levies on the Primary Election ballot Tuesday, with the Grafton-Taylor Health Department being one potential beneficiary of the levies passing.
The one non-renewal levy on this year’s ballot would provide for a construction bond to build a new Grafton-Taylor Health Department. The proposed one-time levy, which would be stretched over five years, would not have its first collection until July 2019.
The department’s administrator, Boyd Van Horn, said a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would have an added tax of approximately $2.56 per month.
If passed, the new 8,000 square foot facility would triple the size of operational space. The current 100-plus year-old building currently houses 27 employees, Van Horn said.
“We have offices with as many as eight people working in one room,” he said. “We have standing joke around the building that the new guy always starts off in the pantry.”
The department has already been able to purchase property next to the existing health department to erect the new 8,000 square-foot facility.
“Once we’ve moved into that space, we’ll then remove the old health department building and create ample parking,” he said. “It’s going to be a new facility that the people of Taylor County can feel very proud of.”
A number of services are offered through the Grafton-Taylor Health Department from flu shots and disease surveillance to food safety and environmental inspections, and that list of offerings continues to grow.
“We are a very unique health department in that we provide services that most health departments do not, one of which is the home health service,” he said. “We have a doctor of physical therapy on staff, we have a number of skilled nurses and even a nurse practitioner. There are only three health departments in the state that provide those skilled kinds of services.”
School-based health clinics will be added to Taylor County Schools at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year, and a long-awaited addition just opened its doors on May 1.
“With the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, we did a ribbon cutting opening our behavioral health services,” Van Horn said. “It’s a new practice within our health department. It took us over a year to receive licensure to provide that.”
Van Horn said the department frequently adds new services as new needs in the community arise and are identified.
“We look for services that the people of Taylor County need and can use that are not being adequately filled in other means. We step up and provide those services,” he said. “We don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, but we stand firm to provide those services if we can.”
He’s confident that a new facility would help to enhance even more programs.
“We anticipate growth in the programs that we provide, and therefore that will create additional job opportunities for people and additional employees,” he said.
The five other levies are renewals that would require no changes in the tax base. Those include funding needed for senior citizens, emergency departments, volunteer fire departments and libraries.
Van Horn said he is optimistic that the levies will pass in Taylor County.
“The people of Taylor County have been very supportive over the years,” he said. “The levies are required to pass with a 60 percent margin, and historically they have passed in Taylor County in the neighborhood of 78 to 80 percent yes votes. The feedback that I’m getting and the history that I’ve looked at does seem to indicate a very positive mood toward the support of these vital levies.”