2012-07-06 / Front Page
Healthcare district sees a slight drop in funds
The Camarillo Health Care District’s 2012-13 budget of $3.67 million was approved last month and went into effect on Monday.
“We’re down 1.87 percent from last year,” said Kara Ralston, the district’s chief administrative officer. “That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re as small as we are every cut is significant. But we remain flexible enough to meet the needs of the community.”
The special district with offices on Las Posas Road offers health-related services to Camarillo residents.
Though about half its revenue comes from Camarillo property taxes, the district relies on grants, gifts and be- quests, and is also an enterprise organization, which means it provides fee-for-service programs.
“A good portion of our funding comes from fee-forservice,” Ralston said. “And that has allowed us to run some important programs, including a number of classes and seminars as well as adult day care and daily medical transportation.”
Healthcare district board member Dr. Richard Loft, a retired physician, said the district offers a variety of programs.
“It’s a pretty solid budget, and with the help of some very good and smart people we’re able to hold our own against the economy,” Loft said. “We’re wisely using tax dollars to serve the community, and we have an incredible staff that helps us do it.”
Loft said the district’s transportation service and wellness community are open to people beyond Camarillo and, in some cases, reaches into the San Fernando Valley.
Ralston said CHCD’s budget is transparent and straightforward, with 61.5 percent, or $1.76 million, of it going to salaries.
The new budget did not include any raises to salaries.
The district’s top five employees account for about $597,000 of the payroll—about a third of the total, according to state records.
Jane Rozanski, the district’s CEO, earns $ 190,316 with $20,540 in additional compensation.
Ralston earns $119,200. Susan Craig, the district’s chief financial officer, is paid $105,521. Sue Tatangelo, the chief resource officer, earns $95,106, while the district’s head of human resources, Tammy Washington, is paid $86,762.
Tom Petersen, executive director of the Sacramentobased Association of California Healthcare Districts, said salaries are set and regulated by each of the districts’ board of directors.
Because the size and scope of services offered by districts vary considerably—some districts oversee the management of a hospital, while others have a staff of five—Petersen said there’s no set formula used when determining payroll.
Of the 74 healthcare districts in the state, 44 manage hospitals. Those districts typically pay higher salaries for CEO and administrative staff.
Petersen said CHCD compares in types of services offered to Sequoia Healthcare District in Redwood City (four full-time employees), Peninsula Health Care District in Northern California (three full-time employees) and Beach Cities Health Care District in Redondo Beach (102 full-time employees).
According to state records, the average CEO salary of the three districts is about $184,000.
The state Legislature recently voted down Assembly Bill 2418, which would have required agencies such as the healthcare district to use 5 percent of the property tax money it receives for salaries and 95 percent for services.
“We fought against that and won,” Ralston said. “It doesn’t make sense. Healthcare services require people to deliver them. We’re not making widgets, we’re assisting people,” she said.
A majority of the district’s staff also receives pensions.
“We have 49 employees, and the ratio works out to 34.98 of them being full-time equiva- lent,” she said. “But salaries include more than just the paycheck. There are benefits, expenses, taxes and the rest of it, so it adds up.”
Ralston said many employees are highly trained and 80 percent is the minimum acceptable operating budget for salaries in similar districts.
Camarillo’s population is aging, according to Ralston, with 24 percent over the age of 60.
“Our district has become a national model, not just a state one, as to how to do what we do,” she said.
Petersen called CHCD a “high-quality program.”
In addition to classes, adult day care and transportation, the district helps those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure, manage their health through nutrition and information.
It also provides wellness and caregiver training.
“In the past, a typical caregiver was an elderly woman looking after her elderly husband, and that would last between four and eight years,” Ralston said. “But that’s changing now, and a typical caregiver can be a 45- to 55-year-old woman who is taking care of a son or daughter wounded in combat from the recent wars. That’s becoming a pattern and, of course, that care may have to go on for decades.”
Ralston said the emotional, financial and familial burdens of caregiving grow each day.
The district also runs the senior meals program, which Ventura County handed off to the cities when it became too expensive for the county to handle.
“Our city decided to take on that program,” she said. “It’s still very popular and meets a critical need as well.”