The Township Committee, in a 4 to 1 vote, approved the introduction of an ordinance to reinstate the autonomous Board of Health. In 2012, the form of the Board of Health was changed from a separate board to one composed of Township Committee members and residents.
“I feel that it’s in the best interest of the residents of Springfield for the Board of Health to be made up of public health professionals.” Deputy Mayor Rich Huber said in a statement published on the official Springfield Democrat website. “This change will ensure that politics don’t get in the way of the public’s well being.”
The final vote on the ordinance will be at the January 22 Township Committee meeting.
Following a series of protracted and contentious discussions, the Township Committee passed the ordinance overhauling Springfield’s Board of Health on June of 2012. The vote was split across party lines, with the Committees three Republicans voting in favor and the two Democrats voting against.
The matter has been fiercely debated in since the changes were first proposed in May.
Over a dozen residents expressed displeasure with the proposed changes during the public comment period, including former officials and members of the Board of Health. In his closing remarks, Mayor Ziad Shehady acknowledged the controversy but argued that in the long run the move would benefit the township.