City Council OKs process to research local health department

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on Feb. 26. Watson/The Signal
Share on facebook
Share
Share on twitter
Tweet
Share on email
Email

Santa Clarita is officially looking into creating and operating its own public health department, but not all City Council members agreed. 

The City Council voted 4-to-1, with Councilman Bob Kellar casting the lone “no” vote at Tuesday’s meeting. 

“I’m not comfortable with extending the $25,000 and I really feel that, ultimately, this is not going to take us anywhere,” he said. 

Their vote allows for the city to hire a consultant for $25,000 to analyze the feasibility of a local public health department — a proposal Mayor Cameron Smyth had introduced to his fellow council members at a previous council meeting, citing a city need to “create greater autonomy for the future.” 

 “I’m not naive to the potential costs and the expanded bureaucracy, but I think it’s time for us to at least look at what Pasadena has, or other cities,” he said during the Sept. 8 meeting. 

The cities of Palmdale and Long Beach, for example, though their demographics differ from that of Santa Clarita, adopted $100 million and $153 million budgets, respectively, for their health and human services departments for 2020. Should the creation of a public health department ensue, Santa Clarita would join four other cities across California — Berkeley, Long Beach, Pasadena and Vernon — with their own departments. 

On Tuesday, council members Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste, who had previously cautioned about costs, said a local health department would help the city in making its own decisions, such as pandemic-related guidelines and reopenings, rather than to follow L.A. County’s Public Health orders. 

“Is there a way to break it down so that we have some say over the health and well-being of our citizens when it comes to pandemics and things such as that and taking a look at our figures and figuring out that … it’s not a one-size-fits-all,” said McLean. “We have to be able to do something to get our community back to where our businesses can open.” 

The consultant will be tasked with completing a study that “would evaluate different models of service delivery, scope of services provided, and potential revenues and expenses, among other factors,” according to a city agenda report.  

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS