Tony Morris, business manager at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute, reported to the citizens advisory committee last week that state appropriations has increased by 7.43 percent for the present fiscal year ending in June of 2006.
This is the highest increase in appropriations for more that a decade, with only two years in that period having increases close to or slightly above the negative effect of inflation - the 2000/01 fiscal year (4.1 percent) and the 2003/04 fiscal year (3.55 percent).
The appropriation for the current year of $13,951,357 is $1.2 million less in real dollars (not adjusted for inflation) than the 1995/96 appropriation of $15,183,921.
Part of that reduction resulted from decisions of the management at CMHI where the lengths of stay at the institution have been reduced by changes in treatment methods. But a 7.09 percent cut in state appropriations in 2002/03 came at a time when the CMHI management felt that the institution had made all the cuts it could without affecting services provided.
There was subsequently a reduction in the number of bed spaces available.
Tom Deiker, superintendent, said that there had previously never been anyone turned away for the lack of bed space at CMHI. It is still rare for people to be turned away and then only for a day or two, Deiker said.
The campus of CMHI has experienced a growth in other governmental or non-profit entities using the buildings. This is a revenue source to help the institution pay for utilities. It has also helped prevent layoffs of support staff for such activities as food service, maintenance and laundry.
Morris said that there will be an energy study shortly that could result in some major projects at the CMHI to save energy. New, energy saving windows will be a probable recommendation. Possible projects could include wind generation of electricity, geothermal wells for getting air for both cooling in the summer and heating in the winter from deep in the ground.
Under a federal program, the cost of the energy saving project is provided and paid back through the savings over a 10-year period.