Health district helps Marysville, despite no funding help

MARYSVILLE – The Snohomish Health District helped city residents with a number of issues, even though the council decided against helping to fund the agency this year.

In Marysville, the district investigated 273 cases of sexually transmitted diseases, 35 cases of communicable diseases and provided health screenings for 29 refugees.

Shawn Frederick, interim administrator, talked about the district at the City Council meeting Monday night.

Council Member Jeff Vaughan, who represents the city on the health board, said he hopes the council will go back to supporting the district financially. It will discuss that during its work session Dec. 2.

Frederick said more money needs to be spent on preventive measures when it comes to public health.

“Prevention is always less expensive, but more is spent on response,” Frederick said.

When motor vehicle excise tax money went away, so did much of their state funding, he said. Statewide, health districts asked for $100 million and received just $22 million. That’s why the district has been asking Snohomish County cities the past few years to help with funding. Last year, Marysville decided not to for various reasons.

Frederick talked about improvements being made:

•Better communication with the public, working with community partners to make funding go further and being more involved in communities.

•Faster response times from 26 to 18 days for small-business owners who may have paid too much and need refunds. “Some operations can be confusing,” Frederick said. “We will continue to work on this to simplify the process.”

•Offered nearly 1,100 online classes for child care workers since February. A little less than half completed the courses. It used to have to be done in person. It’s become a statewide model, he said.

•Online and in-person comment cards helped collect feedback. We are getting high marks in customer service, he said.

Frederick also shared a number of statistics on the work being done by the health district.

•An injury prevention specialist has trained about 500 community members on how to prevent suicide. The Snohomish County Healthy Youth Survey shows the percentage of students seriously considering attempting suicide is on the rise.

•Regarding food safety, the district completed 4,510 inspections last year, received 472 food illness complaints, processed 1,217 permits for temporary food establishments and received 235 plans for food businesses.

•The health district has collected 7,600 needles and distributed 1,293 free needle-cleanup kits, which include puncture-resistant gloves.

•The district worked with multiple cities to bring in more than $1.3 million in grant money for Complete Streets projects.

•The district talked to about 200 dental providers about cancers of the mouth and throat, and shared how to prevent them through HPV vaccinations.

•1,090 babies were part of the WIC Nutrition Program.

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At the meeting, the council also approved Transportation Benefit District projects for 2020.

Sales tax revenue is much more than expected, so much so that $4.57 million will be spent on projects in 2020, compared with $1.96 million in 2019.

City engineer Jeff Laycock said the budget is “sitting pretty flush” with carryover money from last year. About $2.5 million will be spent on projects for construction and design in the Soper Hill, Sunnyside, 80th Street and Alder areas. That includes $1.5 million for a compact roundabout at 83rd and Soper Hill. “We promised residents in that area” to build it to help with traffic congestion caused by all of the housing developments along there, Laycock said.

The projects also include about $2 million for pavement preservation projects at Grove, 67th and 44th.

In other council news:

•Mayor Jon Nehring said he and Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert met with a delegation from South Korea at the Cascade Industrial Center. He said they were “floored” with how fast buildings were going up, and at how much cheaper housing and construction costs are here, compared with Seattle.

•The council OK’d for the Public Utility District to install underground wiring for the Civic Center Project. It accepted a $45,000 grant from Department of Ecology to reduce contamination in recycled material. The city kicks in $15,000. And it OK’d continued use of the South Correctional Entity to house inmates. Marysville secures five beds per day. There’s an extra cost for medical or mental health needs. About half of the 111 inmates sent there last year from Marysville needed those services. Costs range from $128 to $278.

•Crime statistics are down, and there are a number of openings in the police department.