Planning for a Cooperative Public Health Service for Franklin County
Planning Group members and facilitator Greg Hessel hard at work at the FC Sheriff's Office.
In April 2011, nineteen Franklin County towns were awarded a grant to plan regional public health services. Here is a copy of Franklin County’s funded grant application.
The project’s goal was to create a model for shared public health services that:
- Addresses the gaps in what boards of health are currently able to provide
- Provides increased public health protections for the residents of our towns
- Maximizes non-municipal funds in support of local health services
- Gives participating towns meaningful oversight over policies, budget, and the hiring of shared staff
- Improves the job of local Boards of Health in Franklin County
This work built on a year of work by the Public Health Futures Task Force of Franklin County. For more information on the Task Force, see this summary of their work.
The Planning Group met nine times, with an average of 20 people from at least 10 towns in attendance at each meeting. The Group made a number of decisions about the future shared public health service for Franklin County, which will be hosted at the FRCOG :
- Service Model: The regional service will offer a comprehensive set of public health services, including housing, food, septic, camp, pool and other inspections, as well as grant writing and public health nursing. Towns could be part of the district either for comprehensive services or one of a number of bundled shared services (like food inspections, housing issues, septic issues). The regional service will also offer as many a la carte services as possible to towns that would contract to purchase those services.
- Governance Model: One Town, One Vote by scope of involvement. Allows everyone an equal voice in determining shared priorities, but only those who use a service to vote on matters specific to that service. Also allows for easy discussion and voting in all non- budget matters, with a04/30/2012 financial matters.
- Example: shared services members who do not use the nursing service would not vote on any nursing grants, hires, or purchases.
- In general policy and cross-cutting service matters each town would have the same weight to their vote.
- For budget related matters, weights would match the budget assessment formula.
- Budget Assessment Model: The group has chosen to allocate costs for the new service by using a 25% EQV & 75% Population method. Each member town will pay for services based on a formula that calculates a combination of their property value (equalized value, set by the state DOR) and population. Some other examples of assessments that use these numbers are the FRCOG Regional Assessment (10% EQV, 90% population), and the Franklin County Solid Waste District assessments (50% of each). Budget estimates are in development for the September meetings.
Subcommittees on governance, budget, fee structure, program development, shared services and more continue to meet. Online focus groups on different subjects were also offered. The planning group participating towns were: Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Hawley, Leyden, Leverett, Monroe, Montague, Northfield, Orange, Shelburne, Sunderland and Whately.
A copy of the FRCOG’s presentation for hosting a Franklin County Public Health Service at the FRCOG is here. Minutes from all of the planning group meetings are available for Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012. A copy of the invitation to participate in the application for funding for the Cooperative Public Health Service is here.
The Planning Group finished its work and handed the project off to a grant-writing committee of the towns interested in joining the proposed new service and the FRCOG to complete the application for four years of implementation funding. Seven towns participated in the planning group’s final application for implementation funding through the state’s Department of Public Health District Incentive Grant program – Buckland, Charlemont, Deerfield, Gill, Hawley, Shelburne and Monroe. Unfortunately the grant was not funded. Just a few weeks later, a second application for implementation funding was submitted to the Community Innovation Challenge for the same towns, minus Shelburne. This grant included a proposed Phase Two that would include potential expansion to a group of towns in Hampshire County that were also denied funding for a health district implementation grant.
If our application is successful, implementation funds should become available in March 2012 and services will begin immediately. A copy of the grant submitted to the CIC is available here.
A regionalization tool kit and information about regionalization efforts in Massachusetts can be found on the Working Group on Local Health Regionalization website.
Please contact Phoebe Walker with any questions.
This page was last updated on 04/30/2012