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DeKalb County Ballot Question Focuses On Funding For Public Health Services

It's wordy. It's full of numbers. And it might be on your ballot.

The "Proposition to Increase the Limiting Rate" referendum isn't easy on the eyes, but organizers behind a movement to approve it hope voters can look past the complex ballot language on April 4, 2017.

Jane Lux co-chairs the groupCitizens for Public Health. Now retired, she spent more than three decades working at the DeKalb County Public Health Department. She says there is a lot at stake since grant funding, which makes up the largest portion of the department's budget, has been reduced in recent years.

The referendum, if approved, would provide $500,000 in revenue each year to sustain current services.

The annual cost would be approximately $9.57 for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Lux says she wants voters to make an informed decision, and says the proportion of revenue from grants to the health department has been declining over the past decade from a high of 48% in 2013. Lux says that includes a reduction in the equivalent of a dozen full-time employees since 2010 and an increase in fees.

She says adequate staffing levels are crucial during outbreaks and disasters. She points to work done to prevent the spread of Zika virus in pregnant women, the department's response during the tornado in Fairdale, and efforts to contain Norovirus. 

Current funding structure:

  •     40% State & Federal Grants
  •     36% Fees
  •     23% County Taxes
  •     1% Other
Jenna Dooley has spent her professional career in public radio. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois - Springfield. She returned to Northern Public Radio in DeKalb after several years hosting Morning Edition at WUIS-FM in Springfield. She is a former "Newsfinder of the Year" from the Illinois Associated Press and recipient of NIU's Donald R. Grubb Journalism Alumni Award. She is an active member of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association and an adjunct instructor at NIU.