OLR Research Report

September 2, 2008




By: Saul Spigel, Chief Analyst

You asked whether (1) state statute or regulation authorizes district health departments to charge fees to inspect restaurants, (2) the law requires these districts to charge for inspections, and (3) a state mandate or incentives exist for towns to create district health departments.

Neither the statutes nor the Public Health Code explicitly authorizes district health departments to charge fees for restaurant inspections. Consequently, they do not require districts to charge fees for such inspections.

The law that authorizes towns jointly to form district health departments gives districts, in addition to the powers to contract, borrow money, and acquire real estate, “such other powers as are necessary to properly carry out its powers as an independent entity of government.” A district exercises all the authority related to public health that the law requires of or confers on its constituent municipalities. The Public Health Code requires a municipal or district health director or sanitarian, or the director's authorized agent, periodically to inspect every food service establishment (which includes restaurants) in the jurisdiction. It also permits towns to require food service establishments to obtain a local license or permit in order to operate (Public Health Code 19-13-B42 (s)(1) and (t)).

The district is managed by a board, which takes on all the duties exercised or performed immediately before the district's creation by the member municipalities' health directors or boards of health. Each district board can adopt rules and regulations for promoting general health in the district that do not conflict with law or the Public Health Code (CGS 19a-241(a) and 19a-243(a)).

No mandate exists for towns to form or join health districts, but the statutory funding formula for municipal and district departments potentially creates an incentive for them to do so. Municipal and district health departments both receive per capita grants from the Public Health Department. Towns with full-time health directors receive $1.18 per capita; those with part-time directors get 49 cents. In contrast, districts receive $2.43 per capita for each member town with a population of 5,000 or less and $2.08 for per capita for each member town with a population of 5,000 or more (CGS 19a-202 and 245, as amended by PA 07-2, June Special Session).