State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) is established in Iowa Administrative Code to provide public health and environmental testing and surveillance, food safety testing and surveillance, chemical and bioterrorism response, newborn screening and testing, education and training, and applied research. Key partners include the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, hospitals and clinical labs throughout the state and region, and university researchers. Overall budget is $23.9 million, with the state portion comprising approximately $6.5 million, or 27% of the overall budget.
FY19 total projected reveue is $6,531,783:
- State appropriation - 66%
- Fee for service - 33%
- Indirect cost recovery - less than 1%
The FY 2019 state appropriation ($4,297,032) represents a 2.4% decrease from last year. SHL’s appropriation had previously been unchanged since FY 2014. FY19 budget dollars will fund laboratory support and administrative functions, supplies, and services with no other funding sources, such as rabies testing on animals involved in human exposures.
Salaries: Salaries comprise 85% of the laboratory expenses. P&S staff salaries will remain flat through at least January 2019, in line with the University of Iowa’s policy to delay raises until that time. SHL did not give raises to P&S staff in FY18. Merit staff will receive the 1% contractual increase, which necessitates shifting existing P&S staff to other funding sources.
Supplies, Services, and Rentals: These expenses constitute 15% of SHL’s budget. They include reagents and consumables, service contracts, laboratory software, the statewide courier, and DAS leased space for the Ankeny facility.
CHALLENGES AND STRATEGIES
Continuity of funding continues to be a primary concern for SHL. Federal agencies that oversee programs that generate significant testing activity for SHL have the potential for significant budget decreases. The future of the Affordable Care Act, which contains substantial funding for public health laboratories, continues to be questionable. The State of Iowa has significant budget challenges that have resulted in cuts for key partner agencies that order testing from SHL, as well as a direct reduction to SHL’s appropriation.
SHL’s fee-for-service revenue is trending downward due to reductions from partner agencies, technology changes that allow more point-of-use testing rather than laboratory-provided testing, and variability in requirements for the schedule of regulated water contaminant monitoring. Regulated monitoring is on a rotating schedule for many of SHL’s tests. During FY19, SHL will see the lowest monitoring levels for a large water project, with volumes projected to start increasing for this project late in FY19 and into FY20.
These ongoing budget challenges resulted in the furlough of 11 SHL P&S staff members in May 2018. An additional 2.5 P&S positions have been reduced through attrition. SHL continues to work on other cost reductions, including reducing travel for staff and partnering with major vendors to reduce supply costs.