Archived Story

Human Services, Public Health may split again

Published 11:36am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A little more than a year after the county merged Public Health and Human Services into one department, county officials are discussing a reversal.

Health and Human Services Director Julie Stevermer told the county board Tuesday that two of the other three counties — Steele, Dodge and Waseca — involved in the Southeastern Minnesota Human Service Redesign are not interested in joining the Health and Human Services Department.

“We have one county out of the four that wouldn’t mind doing the health,” Stevermer said. “The other two are adamantly opposed.”

In 2012, the county board OKed the first phase of the originally 12-county Human Services redesign. As the four remaining counties move toward a vote on entering the second phase in March or April, Mower County leaders will have to decide on whether move forward and make Public Health its own department again.

“If you do this four county merger, it would not include public health,” County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said.

The Mower County board merged the two departments in 2011 in an attempt to save money and improve efficiencies.

Though Stevermer described it as taking a step back to take another step forward, she told the board it’s still worth moving ahead.

“Sometimes we’ve got to [reconfigure] what we’ve done for the greater good,” she said.

Commissioner Jerry Reinartz expressed concern about the cost of moving Public Health back to its own department, but county officials did not yet know.

Down the road, Oscarson and Stevermer said leaders in the other counties could change their minds and decide to eventually merge the two departments.

“Eventually, we’re going to be back on that route,” Stevermer said.


In other business:

The county board postponed discussing an agreement with the state of Minnesota and the Southeast Minnesota Regional Radio Board for the 800-MHz radio system.


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