Scioto County Infirmary

Changes Sought by County Board to Cut ’39 Costs

Commissioners Propose Closing of Infirmary and Moving Children’s Home Boys to Farm

“Virtual collapse of Scioto county government in 1939 because of lack of finances was pictures Wednesday night when members of the board of county commissioners met to discuss the county’s financial problem.”

“In an effort to effect reductions in expenditures, the commissioners met with trustees of the children’s home and other county officials.”

“Trustees of the home had under consideration today several recommendations made by the commissioners including proposals to:”

“Close the county home on the West Side as an infirmary for aged people and house children’s home boys of 15 to 18 years of age there, or lease the county home farm.”

“House aged persons in the Union Mission and require those eligible to obtain state old age pensions.”

“Eliminate two branches operated by the children’s home trustees, one at Minford for older boys and one at Sixth and Washington streets for older girls.”

“Some doubt developed today, however, as to whether the proposal to use the Union Mission for county home persons could be fulfilled.”

Opposition Develops

“Some members of the mission’s board of directors announced opposition to the plan, although other mission officials had made an offer to the county commissioners to board and lodge county home residents for $17.50 a month for each.”

“Those opposed to the plan cited what they believed would be difficulty caring for those who became ill and asserted that the mission’s function of providing a haven for wayfarers would not provide a suitable environment for those now living in the county home.”

“Other proposals recommended by the children’s home trustees and under their consideration include:”

“Closing of the boys’ home at Minford and transferring the 24 boys housed there back to the children’s home. Superintendent WG Howes reported there is room now for the boys in the home.”

“Maintain the girls’ home at Sixth and Washington streets and accept a proposal by the 18 girls houses there to pay the rental of $600 a year.”

“In the event of lease of the county farm, transfer the infirmary’s laundry equipment to the children’s home, where laundry bills average $100 a month. The home has no laundry facilities because of lack of finances.”

Would Reduce Budget

“The children’s home budget this year was $41,000. The commissioners reported that ot more than $30,000 will be available in 1939. Recommendations under consideration by the trustees will reduce the requirements to approximately $34,000, Mr. Howes said.”

“Trustees of the home and Mr. Howes assured the commissioners that they will do ‘everything in our power’ to reduce expenses and will cooperate with the county’s economy program ‘to the fullest extent’.”

“County commissioners have no control over the administration of the children’s home. It is governed by a board of trustees appointed by the commissioners. The trustees are governed by state and federal social laws. The commissioners have only the power of appropriation of funds.”

County Auditor Henry H Eccles advised the meeting that figures indicate the commissioners cannot appropriate more than $95,000 for general fund requirements in 1939. The budget in 1938 was $341,000.”

Salaries Total $36,000

“Salaries of elected county officials require $36,000 annually and are fixed by state laws. The commissioners have no control over fixing of salaries, other than to make the mandatory appropriations.”

“While a plan has not been adopted definitely, commissioners are planning next year’s budget along lines of social needs. They are agreed that after deduction of officials’ salaries the balance of the funds should be used in the most part for support of children, aged persons and county jail prisoners.”

“The tentative budget figures submitted Wednesday night were:”

“Elected officials salaries: $36,000”

“Children’s Home: $36,000”

“Infirmary: $8,000”

“County Jail: $10,000”

Balance Would Be $10,000

“The foregoing figures total $84,000, leaving a balance of $11,000 for appropriation. Mr. Eccles figured that if part of the $11,000 was used to employ 15 persons in courthouse offices each would get about $40 a month. The balance would be kept as a cushion for emergencies.”

“Discussing the $95,000 available for appropriation, the auditor said, the county would receive $160,000 from real estate taxes and $65,000 from office fees, based on 100 per cent collections. The 1938 overdraft will be approximately $130,000, leaving $95,000 to operate the county next year.”

“Mr. Eccles said present indications are that the county will get about $60,000 cash of the $95,000 appropriation, because skeleton staffs in county offices will not be able to collect fees that would be taken in by normal staffs.”

“Because the county will have no funds to pay its share of support of inmates in state institutions, the state next year will deduct the money from the county’s share of state sales taxes. The deductions undoubtedly will consume all the funds that the county would be alloted from sales taxes, he said.”

Results Forecast

“Enforcement of the $95,000 appropriation, the commissioners said would result in:”

“Closing the county election board office.”

“Operation of all county offices by the elected officials with each office assisted by one or two employees in some cases.”

“Withdrawal of county aid for soldiers’ relief, blind pensions, aid for dependent children and hospitalization of tuberculosis patients at Mt. Logan sanatorium.”

“The commissioners said they do not have funds appropriate for any of these services.”

$13,000 For Children

“Mr. Eccles said this year the county appropriated $13,000 for the aid of dependent children. The state contributed $26,000 and the federal government gave $18,000. State and federal funds, he said, will not be forthcoming without local contribution, which would result in closing of the department.”

GC Johnson1, superintendent of the county infirmary, told the commissioners he does not believe the county would save money by sending county home resident to the Union Mission on the basis of $17.50 a month.”

“During 1937, when there was some flood damage to repair, Mr. Johnson said the average per capita cost per month at the infirmary was $15.43, including not only board and lodging, but also medicine, clothing, tobacco and burial.”

Cites Farm Revenue

“In addition to this, he said, the infirmary has produced an average of $2,644.95 annually in revenue for the county through sale of farm products raised but not needed at the infirmary. The average covers the 15-year period Mr. Johnson has been superintendent of the infirmary.”

“He told the commissioners that he can reduce his request for funds for 1939 from $12,000 to $8,000. The additional $4,000 had been requested, he announced, to increase the farm products.”

“‘You want the county to spend $4,000 to get $2,600?’ Mr. Eccles asked.”

“Mr. Johnson argues that the commissioners could not realize $2,600 a year through rental of the farm. Commissioner Frank N Bihlman replied that the rental revenue would be governed by farm prices.”

Cost Declared Law

“Figures compiled throughout Ohio by the state welfare department have shown in past years that Mr. Johnson operates one of the lowest-cost infirmaries in the state per capita. His records and administration of the institution were praised by the state examiner after the last examination in 1936.”

“With an average of 48 residents at the infirmary, the per capita cost per month in 1939 would be $16 if a budget of $8,000 is allowed.”

“After the infirmary was discussed from various angles the commissioners advised the trustees of the children’s home that the infirmary would be at their disposal if they desire to use it for boys.”

“Trustees said they desire to give boys the opportunity of learning farming. Since they are responsible for the boys, the trustees said, they will give the proposal serious consideration before reaching a conclusion. They cited that many angles including cost, supervision and instruction of the youths, enter the picture and require serious consideration.”

Girls Volunteer Rent

“Girls housed in the home service school at Sixth and Washington streets volunteered to come to the aid of their benefactor, Scioto county. These young women work in stores and restaurants and as maids part time. They volunteered to contribute $50 a month of their earnings to pay the rent of the home.”

“Through supervision of the trustees the girls are taught to save a portion of their earnings for use when they are dismissed from the home. They are taught housekeeping, home economics and many are being qualified for positions. The girls now by their own clothes, pay their dental and doctor bills, buy incidentals and save a part of their earnings.”

“Trustees said the service home is recognized as ‘an outstanding institution which is accomplishing something worthwhile’, and they are reluctant to discontinue the home. If the girls pay the rent the home will cost the county about $1,200 a year.”

“Discussion of the children’s home led to an interesting forum. It developed that the trustees are hampered somewhat in their work by state and federal laws.”

Cases Studied

“The government recently sent three field investigators to the home to make studies of each individual case. The work will require about six months. Another government plan is to place feeble-minded children in private homes at an additional cost to the county.”

“Trustees explained they have no control over commitments to or dismissals from the home. They are merely guardians of those committed to their care, they said, and have no say over who shall be admitted or who shall be discharged.”

“Superintendent Howes reported that parents of at least 12 children want to take their children back home, but are forbidden by the state because the state social workers feel their home environment is not proper.”

“Mr. Howes said there are many children in the home whose board should be paid by parents. Investigation will disclose that many parents are able to support the children and have them committed to the home merely to ‘get rid of them’, he charged.”

Must Accept Children

“Mr. Howes said the children are committed through juvenile court and that he is bound by law to accept all committed and, even though he knows some parents should be compelled to pay he is powerless to enforce payment.”

“Trustees agreed that there are many cases where parents had their children put into the home merely to escape the responsibilities of rearing them and to compel the taxpayers to pay for their support.”

“There are now 296 children under guardianship of the trustees.”

“Juvenile Judge Vernon Smith said today he always has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with county commissioners and trustees of the children’s home in effecting efficient and economical administration.”

“Payment for maintenance of children in the home must be enforced through the prosecutor’s office, Judge Smith said. Juvenile court, he said, is without power to compel payment for support of children in the home.”

Uses Basis of Need

“Children, he said, are committed on a basis of need. When the court is shown that parents are unable to support their children, the children are sent to the home. After the child reaches the home the court loses jurisdiction, the judge said.”

“Judge Smith said it is quite possible that families indigent at the time the children were committed are able now to support the children. These cases, the court said, should be referred to the prosecutor for collection of cost or the children should be returned to the parents.”

“Judge Smith may meet the trustees to discuss conditions and attempt to solve the financial problem.”

Costs Up To Hospital

“As to insane persons committed to the hospital at Athens, Judge Smith said that commitments are not made unless recommended by two physicians. The hospital engages a field worker, who checks families of inmates to determine if the family is able to pay for support of the patient.”

“Costs are assessed and collected by the hospital, he said. Judge Smith declared that probate court has no jurisdiction over the cost angle of the state hospital.”

“The discussion was amicable and instructive. Both the commissioners and trustees discussed their problems to great extent in a friendly and cooperative spirit.”

“Mr. Bihlman, who with James T Phillips, clerk of commissioners, instituted a search for economy several months ago, called the conference. Commissioners Ben Schwamberger and Frank Kuhn and Acting Clerk Mary Jane Bennie attended. The commissioners have discussed the economy program for several weeks and concurred in the recommendations.”2

  1. George Clarence Johnson
  2. Changes Sought By County Board To Cut ’39 Costs. (1938, December 8). Portsmouth Times, p. 1.
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