Voters split on 2 questions for Platte County Health Department fees

Voters approved one set of fees and shot down another in the Tuesday, April 5 balloting in Platte County.

The Platte County Health Department put two questions to voters to approve annual permit fees for food establishments and to approve increases to fees for “septic system” permits. They were not asked to create a new tax on all residents.

The food permits passed with 53.57 percent of the vote, while 56.96 percent voted against the fees for septic system construction and inspection. In addition, one incumbent and one newcomer were elected the PCHD board of directors.

About 4,000 votes were cast on the two questions with 13.4 percent of voters participating, while 16.8 percent of registered voters cast a ballot for the board of directors.
The new food inspection fees range from $25 to $500.

The fees for food establishments come after the health department lost about $80,000 in its food protection program. Other local health departments already had put these fees into place.

Expense is determined by a risk factor scale with $500 set for increased public health risk establishments to $100 for low risk establishments. Non-profit food service areas, such as school and jail cafeterias, will not pay a fee.

“We have to look at new ways to generate revenue so we can continue to ensure that our restaurants and grocery stores are providing safe food to Platte County residents and visitors,” said Dan Luebbert, assistant director of the health department.

The proposed increases for those constructing or servicing a septic system on their property ranged from $25 to $75 depending on the work being done.

For example, a new construction permit or a repair permit for a septic tank would have increased from $100 to $150, while new fees would be added for inspections and reviews ranging from $25 to $75 for review of a proposed subdivision of more than 10 lots.

According to health department sewer program manager Kyle Schuman, PCHD permits and inspects 50 to 80 new systems or repairs annually and inspects 40 to 50 existing systems for real estate transactions. The income from fees is used to protect public health.

In addition to the ballot questions, Dr. Kent Jackson kept his spot on the board of directors while Teresa Hills ousted longtime incumbent Robert Stephens for the second open spot. Hills received the most votes at 38.19 percent while Jackson came in at 25.13 percent.

Stephens was third in balloting at 21.14 percent, while Dean Cull came in at 14.69 percent.

Jackson, 63, continues in his role already with more than 20 years of experience on the board. Owner of Jackson Animal Clinic in Platte City, he believes his current tenure made him well prepared to face ongoing challenges for maintain services such as primary care and immunizations while raising awareness of sexually transmitted diseases.

Jackson wants to help provide care, including dental services, to those who can’t afford it, and he opposes the legalization of marijuana and wants to help take a stand on human trafficking. 

Hills, 53, of North Kansas City, Mo. was elected for the first time. Owner of Hills Family Dental in Platte City, she has worked in dentistry her whole life, first as an assistant then as a hygienist before going back to school to become a dentist.