MADISON — It doesn’t appear Madison County will be purchasing the Norfolk satellite office of the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Gina Uhing, the department’s director, met Tuesday with the Madison County Board of Commissioners and gave an update on questions the board asked at a meeting two weeks ago.
“We are trying to get an appraisal on this building and we are in the waiting line on that appraisal. I don’t know when that’s going to be done,” she said.
Earlier this month, Uhing informed the board about the services and needs of the department that serves Madison, Stanton, Cuming and Burt counties.
In April, the governor’s office told the state’s health departments that portions of a funding stream for health departments would be ending. The funds were reimbursement dollars the health departments were getting for pandemic recovery work.
The governor’s rationale was now that the counties have American Rescue Plan Act funds, the health departments should be going to the county boards for more of its funding. It is all part of the $1.9 trillion in federal funds that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Nebraska’s overall share is expected to be about $1 billion. Based on early figures, it appears the county’s allotment will be more than $6.8 million, although it isn’t entirely clear yet how the funds can used.
Commissioner Ron Schmidt asked if the counties had received any updates on rules for the funds.
Uhing said comments were accepted through Monday, and then an update will be given.
“I still am hoping that it is something that we can continue to discuss and potentially pursue,” she said.
The Norfolk office in the north central part of town has 10 employees. Among its services, it has a FEMA contract to provide COVID-19 vaccines at one of the bays in the Sunset Plaza Mall. Once the mall lease ends, there is a good chance those vaccines will be conducted in the Norfolk office, Uhing said.
The Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department shares the building with two other entities. The department renovated its portion of the building last October and November.
The property owner has been contacted and is interested in selling the portion occupied by the health department.
Schmidt said about his only frustration with the building has been parking at times. The health department shares the parking lot with two other entities.
Uhing said before the pandemic, it typically had about 75 visitors a week. The other two tenants own their space and do not lease the property.
One of the ideas would be if Madison County would use a portion of its recovery funds for the department to purchase the building, it could free up the department’s lost revenue stream. That’s because the department no longer would have to make a rent payment.
Until Uhing receives an appraisal and the county learns more about how American Rescue Plan Act funds may be spent, the matter will not be revisited, both commissioners and Uhing said Tuesday.