Smoking settlement means $25,000 a year for health dept.
PLYMOUTH - The good news is the Marshall County Health Department is going to receive $25,000 a year for the next 20 years as part of the infamous nationwide tobacco settlement.
The bad news is the health department is not sure what they will do with the money, or what conditions will come with the cash.
There are a number of directions the health department can go, according to Nick Molchan, director of the Marshall County Health Department, who is waiting on guidance from the local health department board as to what to do with the money.
"We can use it for educational programs-smoking cessation or prevention health programs," Molchan stated. "It has to be for a new program to expand an existing program here at the health department."
Molchan said the problem is the health department has used grant money in the past to develop programs. When the grant money is gone, the county is often left holding the bag to fund the programs.
For example, the health department has a full time food service person. Molchan said that program was implemented with grant money. It is now a program that costs $50,000 a year to run, but the state only provides $20,000.
"That leaves the county with the other $30,000," Molchan added.
The health department is not complaining about collecting $25,000 a year for the next 20 years to battle the dangers of smoking or begin other programs. Molchan said the health department does not want to be in a position where it has a program it or the county can no longer afford when the funds from the smoking settlement dry up.
The health department can also apply for a $12,413 grant from the smoking settlement money in addition to the $25,000 the department will receive. The health department must apply for the grant by Oct. 1. The application must state what the department will do with the money.
"Right now I don't have a clue what we are going to do with the money," Molchan said. "I am pretty sure we will spend in one education-smoking cessation or prevention. I will know more when our board meets. I hope we can start a program that we can easily get out of if the money stops coming