BF County Commissioners Control Board of Health - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

BF County Commissioners Control Board of Health

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Posted: December 13, 2007 6:17 p.m.

TRI-CITIES, Wash.--Since 1993, Benton and Franklin counties have been contributing close to $400,000 dollars to the health district. Kennewick, Richland and Pasco however, didn't give one-cent.

"They elected not to help out so, I think this is the direction the counties now will go ahead and take over the operation of the board of health," says Dr. Larry Jecha, Benton-Franklin County Health District Officer.

Max Benitz Jr. now oversees mental health programs for the counties. He's excited about this new role, but he knows it's a long road ahead.

"I believe it is necessary that we as elected officials provide the basic level of services and dollars are a little short so, we want to bring that expertise to the table," mentions Benitz Jr.

Kennewick Councilman, Tom Moak, said the health district asked the city for help at a tough time.

"They had suggested that the city ought to contribute $300,000 dollars to the health district this year that was unbudgeted," says Moak.

With city officials no longer on the health district board, Dr. Jecha says it's a nice change.

"It's a start but we are going to have to have some help or the services are going to have to decrease," admits Dr. Jecha.

Before the district reaches that step, Moak hopes to address Kennewick's commitment to public health.

"The city of Kennewick has been interested in and is willing to sit down with the counties and talk about what the needs are in public health and where we go from here," says Moak.