Proposed budget cuts cause social media meltdown for Ottawa County Interim Health Director
Published August 31, 2023
Written by Henry
Photography by Simply American
“The County will not stand for any attempts by the Department of Public Health to cut essential programs unnecessarily, for political spectacle or media theatrics. The families who are served by the Department of Public Health deserve better, and will not be political pawns.” —Ottawa County Press Release, August 28, 2023
Rather than coming to the budget discussion to work out details with the County Administrator, Interim Health Director Adeline Hambley jumped on the media circuit.
In an attempt to fearmonger the citizens of Ottawa County, Hambley claimed that the department will be forced to close its doors or cut essential mandated services.
In a social media post on August 22, 2023, at 4:59pm, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health amped up its temper tantrum by stating, “Proposed budget reductions of this size will significantly impair, and likely eliminate, various public health services and the Health Department’s ability to maintain public health and safety.”
OC Department of Public Health Facebook post, August 22, 2023.
Just two days later (Thursday, August 24, 2023, at 5:08pm), Hambley again continued the false narrative.
Posted on the Ottawa County Department of Public Health social media pages is a letter signed by Hambley stating, “[T]hese actions will have lasting and long-term effects on individuals, businesses, organizations, and the entire community as they risk the health of each person who lives or works in Ottawa County.”
An attempt was made to reach Hambley on Friday, August 25, 2023, to ask questions. But, during her “manufactured crisis,” she was out of the office.
Out of office response from Adeline Hambley, August 25, 2023.
On Monday, August 28, 2023, Hambley had a virtual press conference to spin her narrative of fear again.
“We will be looking to create new channels to be able to communicate credible health information,” Hambley said, “and updates that are of interest to the county residents as soon as possible.”
She continues, “It’s important to the Ottawa County Health Officer for me to be able to have the powers and duties to inform and speak with the public as soon as possible if there is a threat to health.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic many Ottawa County citizens realized that our Health Department was given too many powers. And the previous Board of elected officials failed to oversee the Health Department—which puts Ottawa County in a place where “powers” now seem to be the most important thing to Hambley.
But where are her facts?
As her lawyer sits next to her during her virtual press conference, Hambley again speaks of not meeting the minimum requirement for state mandated services—all while failing to give the public exactly what the state minimums are.
The citizens can see the facts for themselves.
From 2009 to 2018 the Ottawa County Health Department hovered close to a 10-million-dollar budget, increasing to 16 to 18 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where did the extra funds go during that period?
Board Chair Joe Moss was able to explain where some of the funds went when interviewed on the Justin Barclay show on August 28, 2023.
“Two years ago the county added 42 COVID staff positions. And, those people have been working the last two years, presumably on COVID response,” Moss explains. “And, now that we’re past the government response to the pandemic, those positions should end as it was discussed in the very beginning.”
According to an August 26, 2023 press release by Board Vice-Chair Sylvia Rhodea, “Public Health Panic—The prioritization of public health powers over the needs of the people,” the previous Board approved these 42 positions for $2,179,153.
The Biden administration ended the public health emergency on May 11, 2023, signaling to the country that it was time to return to pre-pandemic life.
In a press release by Moss, he breaks down a plan for the budget that could save taxpayers in Ottawa County $4,178,063—all while still meeting the statutory requirements.
Moss reminds citizens that the Health Department has a current fund balance of three million dollars, as shown in the following budget breakdown provided to residents during the budget process.
Ottawa County Public Health budget breakdown. Image obtained from Board Chair Joe Moss' press release.
“I can’t even make a plan around it,” Hambley told the Holland Sentinel.
So rather than sitting down and engaging in discussion, Hambley is attempting to influence the budget process by media theatrics.
For over 10 years the previous health director was able to make a 10-million-dollar budget work and still provide the services required by state mandates.
If the former health officer could operate and come to the table for the process, why can’t Hambley?
The County has promised to continue to work through the details, with or without assistance from Public Health leaders.
“We remain committed to ensuring the Public Health Department meets the needs of the community, serving our children, families, and individuals with excellence while ensuring fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of Ottawa County.” —August 28th Ottawa County Press Release