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Supervisors Hear Good News On Funds

By Staff | Dec 27, 2013

The state-ordered re-design of mental health services at the county level into regional systems has been a source of contention and unhappiness for the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. A primary concern over what would happen to any carryover funds of the county’s Mental Health funds.

In a discussion with Mental Health Coordinator Maureen Sandberg a week earlier, the supervisors had discussed what would happen to an approximately $800,000 carryover balance in the mental health fund when the new Regional Mental Health consortium takes over in 2014.

It was thought that any counties with carryover balances would have to send those funds to the regional group to help make up deficits of other member counties, something the supervisors didn’t like at all.

In Monday’s meeting, Board Chair Ron Graettinger, who is the county’s representative on the Northwest Iowa Care Connections Service Governance Board, had some good news from the Region for a change.

“We met last Friday to talk about these carryover funds and we decided that counties with carryover money are going to keep their fund balances in their own counties,” Graettinger reported. “Every county will put their $47.28 levy funds into the Regional treasury when that starts on July 1.”

The news was well-received by the board members and Sandberg, who was present to hear the news.

Supervisor Linus Solberg, who accompanied Graettinger to the meeting of the Regional Governance Board, noted that any shortcoming in funding would require the member counties of the Region to contribute additional funds, based on a per-capita percentage. “That means we won’t have to pay as much in for a shortfall as like Clay County would,”?Solberg stated.

With one bit of good news, Sandberg informed the board that after discussion on dropping a service offered by Seasons Center for Mental Health in Spencer, a new contract was sent to her reflecting a deduction of $7,600 for the elimination of Consultations and Education services from Seasons under the county’s yearly Catchment Fee for Service.

“Seasons sent a new contract and took out the Consultation and Education, which reduced our yearly Catchment fee amount to $56,167,”?Sandberg said. “And, this contract is for the period of January 1 through June 30, when the Region starts up.”

In earlier discussions with the board, Sandberg had noted that the service had only been used for one hour during the previous year, and hardly seemed worth the $7,600 charge.

“Are you happy with the change to the contract?” Supervisor Keith Wirtz, a member of the Seasons Board, asked Sandberg.

“Yes, I’m very happy with it,”?Sandberg replied.

With that, the board gave unanimous approval to the six-month contract with the mental health provider.

The board was briefed by Deputy Auditor Robin Jamison on the county’s Wellness Program. Jamison reported that Palo Alto County enjoyed over 90 percent participation in the Wellness Program by county employees, and that participation resulted in a five-percent discount in the county’s health insurance premium amount, a savings of $47,772.

“We will realize that much in savings for the next year just because so many of our employees participated in the Wellness program,”?Jamison said.

“I think this is a great way that our employees are working to keep our health care costs down,”?noted Wirtz.

“We don’t just dream these programs up,”?Jamison said. “We’re honestly trying to save the taxpayers $50,000 a year with these Wellness programs.”

The board also heard a pair of funding requests for the coming fiscal year. Julie Schulenberg and Jackie Kehoe of CAASA, the Center Against Abuse and Sexual Assault, appeared before the supervisors to request funding in the amount of $3,500 for the coming fiscal year.

“We’re just trying to reach out more to Palo Alto County with more advocates,”?Schulenberg explained.

Also appearing before the Supervisors were Hugh Lively and Sam Johnson of the Regional Transit Authority, who requested funding of $6,000 for the coming fiscal year.

The supervisors took therequests under advisement to be considered at budget time.