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Health District Demands Full Funding

The Westport Weston Health District (WWHD) voted April 19 to request the respective towns throw in their full shares toward the district's proposed 2010 – 2011 operating budget. The Westport Board of Finance attempted to cut more than $13,000 from the district's request, with another $5,000 cut by Weston.

For the second year in a row the staff will see no pay raise or expansion. WWHD Director of Finances and Operations John Cimarosa said, “Right now we are doing more than we have ever done per person. We're limited in what we can do if we get much more business.”

Westport and Weston each contribute a portion of the WWHD's budget, with the rest of the funding coming from grants and fees. Westport is being asked to contribute $472,522 while Weston's portion totals $183,748. Since 2008 the contributions from Westport and Weston have hovered around $458,759 and $178,396 respectively. The Westport Board of Finance voted to only approve the previous year's funding level. Earlier in the year, the state gave the health district a $22,000 grant which it subsequently took back.

The WWHD will submit a letter to the Representative Town Committee's Health and Human Services subcommittee requesting they support the full appropriation from the board. If the RTM decides to not grant the WWHD request and keeps the funding at the $458,759 level the board will have to make a choice. They could attempt to make do without the requested $13,000 or they could force the town to pay what they are requesting. Doing without the contributed funds could force service fees from the district to rise.

The WWHD functions as an independent agency who by state mandate can force the towns to pay their portion of the budget the Board of Directors sets. Board members said they would like to hold off on forcing the towns to accept their budget if possible, preferring to save that for when the shortfall is significantly larger. WWHD Director of Finances and Operations John Cimarosa said, “It is a tough position from the state's perspective. If town's just paid what they wanted to, they wouldn't.”

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