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Board to vote on human services merger

Published 10:37am Monday, June 24, 2013

About four years of debate and discussion will all come down to a vote at Tuesday’s county board meeting.

The Mower County board is set to vote around 9:30 a.m. on whether to merge human services with three other counties.

While Dodge and Steele counties voted to move ahead with the merger earlier this month, many Mower County officials have soured on the project in recent weeks. Waseca County will vote in the coming weeks.

At a meeting last Tuesday, commissioners hedged at unanswered questions and the $1 million required to move on to the merger’s next phase.

“A million dollars is an awful lot to risk on such an uncertain venture,” Board Chairman Jerry Reinartz said last week. “There’s so many unanswered questions.”

Estimates of the costs once the counties would merge human services Jan. 1, 2015 varied drastically. Consultant Clifton Allen estimated Mower County could save $200,000 to $300,000 a year after the merger, but County Coordinator Craig Oscarson and county staff estimated the county could pay $700,000 more a year — number Oscarson said were far from certain.

Commissioner Tony Bennett said it’s unlikely there are enough votes to pass the measure on the board.

Commissioners haven’t been the only ones to sour on the plan, as County Attorney Kristen Nelsen lambasted the plan last week for a lack of transparency and high amount of risk.

“As a taxpayer, I shutter at the thought of you turning over a million dollars of money from Mower County to other people to manage where you have no further say in how it’s spent and where there is no guaranteed outcome that this will even fly,” she said.

 

Other business:

—The board is scheduled to hear an update from Community Health Director Lisa Kocer on a Family Planning Special Project Grant, the Statewide Health Improvement Plan and more.

—The finance committee is scheduled make a recommendation on a request $10,000 for economic development purposes.


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