Background Local health departments (LHDs) rely on a wide variety of funding sources, and the level of financing is associated with both LHD performance in essential public health services and population health outcomes. Although it has been shown that funding sources vary across LHDs, there is no evidence regarding the relationship between fiscal allocation (local tax levy); fiscal effort (tax capacity); and fiscal capacity (community wealth). Purpose The purpose of this study is to analyze local tax levy support for LHD funding. Three research questions are addressed: (1) What are tax levy trends in LHD fiscal allocation? (2) What is the role of tax levy in overall LHD financing? and (3) How do local community fiscal capacity and fiscal effort relate to LHD tax levy fiscal allocation? Methods This study focuses on 74 LHDs eligible for local tax levy funding in Minnesota. Funding and expenditure data for 5 years (2006 to 2010) were compiled from four governmental databases, including the Minnesota Department of Health, the State Auditor, the State Demographer, and the Metropolitan Council. Trends in various funding sources and expenditures are described for the time frame of interest. Data were analyzed in 2012. Results During the 2006-2010 time period, total average LHD per capita expenditures increased 13%, from $50.98 to $57.63. Although the overall tax levy increase in Minnesota was 25%, the local tax levy for public health increased 5.6% during the same period. There is a direct relationship between fiscal effort and LHD expenditures. Conclusions Local funding reflects LHD community priorities and the relative importance in comparison to funding other local programs with tax dollars. In Minnesota, local tax levy support for local public health services is not keeping pace with local tax support for other local government services. These results raise important questions about the relationship between tax levy resource effort, resource allocation, and fiscal capacity as they relate to public health spending in local communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health