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Supervisors Continue Discussion on Program

By Staff | Mar 25, 2008

The continued question of what to do with the Integrated Service Pathways (ISP) program came before the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors again in their March 18 meeting. The board also discussed some general items with the Palo Alto County Engineer during the session, held in the boardroom of the Palo Alto County Courthouse.

County Mental Health Director Maureen Sandberg opened the discussion by asking the board what it had decided in regards to funding for the ISP, as a meeting of the program’s multi-county board was scheduled for the following day.

“I need to know what to tell them at this meeting,” Sandberg said. “Are you going to leave your funding as you had recommended, or are you going to fund it fully?”

At issue is the future of the program, which provides a mental health evaluation and counseling program for prisoners in county jails. The program is open to any prisoner, but is not mandatory. The prisoner must request the program, which comes to the jail to provide its services.

However, the federal funding for the program has been cut, and current funding will run out before the end of the current fiscal year. The program, which serves eight counties in northwest Iowa, has gone to the counties to ask them to pick up the funding, totaling $120,000 a year.

For the local supervisors, the loss of funding from the government is troubling, a continuing trend of mandated programs with no funding support.

“Denny Goeders (Palo Alto County Sheriff) has told us the program does help, and the jailer from Clay County agreed,” noted Supervisor Keith Wirtz. “I feel we should give them something.”

Wirtz went on to explain that the SEASONS Center for Mental Health in Spencer has agreed to put up $20,000 of the costs for the program, leaving $100,000 between the eight counties served by ISP. For Palo Alto County, that would amount to $12,000 in fiscal year 2009.

“My thought is that if the feds see that the counties are willing to pay, then they’ll never give out any more grants for programs like this,” observed Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“That’s the trouble with all this,” Wirtz agreed. “The government starts a program and then tosses the funding to us…That’s just not right.”

“If Palo Alto County doesn’t approve more that the $2,500 you’ve discussed, the ISP will be done here in July and we won’t be served any more,” Sandberg said.

The board questioned the possibility raised by Noonan of applying for grants, and Sandberg noted that grants have been applied for, but no answers have been received.

“I think we should go ahead and give them the $2,500 that we budgeted for and see what happens in the interim,” Wirtz suggested. “Between now and July, we can see what the other counties are going to do and see if they can get any grants.”

The board agreed with that idea and will revisit the issue in July.

In other business, the board approved a resolution to a claim by the Ruthven Coop Oil Company. When the firm bid for the Secondary Road Department fuel contract a year ago, a miscommunication on what to base the base fuel bid price on resulted in the firm making the fuel available at an incorrect price. When the error was discovered, Ruthven Coop Oil submitted a claim for $4,200.

At the board’s direction, Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz had negotiated with officials of the cooperative, and the two parties agreed on a settlement payment of $3,800 by the Secondary Road Department.

On a motion by Supervisor Ron Graettinger that was seconded by Supervisor Jerry Hofstad, the settlement was approved unanimously by the board.

Fantz also reported that it was time for the embargo on the four specified roads should start, but he was hoping that the county’s gravel roads would firm up a bit after the wet snowfall of the day before. “It’s a real interesting time for gravels. A nice, hard rain would make a big difference for them right now.”

Noonan noted he had received a request for some gravel on 510th Avenue between Rodman and Cylinder, and asked if perhaps it might be more effective to do some re-grading on the road, as water was collecting on the roadway.

“The crowns do get beaten down and the water doesn’t drain off,” Fantz agreed. “We’re trying to use the retriever more and that does help, but a good grading and re-establishment of the crown is the answer.”

“I was just thinking if we’re going to spend money for rock, maybe we should look at grading on some of these roads,” Noonan said. “I’d just hate to waste money on rock if the roads just need some re-grading.”

The board also viewed a presentation by Doug Tonemacher of Pictometry of Rochester, NY, regarding an overflight of the county for the Geographic Information Survey project.