Right to say ‘no’Published 10:51am Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Daily Herald editorial
Though the Mower County Board of Commissioners spent almost two years researching a multi-county human services department merger only to abandon the project, we salute the county board for having the wisdom to look into ways to make Mower County more efficient in the future.
We were intrigued by the idea of a 12-county human resources merger within southern Minnesota, as on paper the idea would save millions of dollars and potentially streamline workloads for already taxed county workers. That’s what drew county commissioners to support the initiative in the first place when County Coordinator Craig Oscarson brought the idea before the board two years ago.
As more details emerged, we weren’t so sure a human services merger was such a good idea. Despite many meetings between counties, no official could accurately predict just how much money the county would save, nor could any official say how many jobs we would lose in the county as a result of streamlined practices and increased technological support. To make matters worse, several of the counties balked at the opportunity after it was decided Olmsted County would have a large say in allocating resources throughout the area, which sparked the beginning of the end of the project last summer.
When it came down to four counties, commissioners were concerned the merger would only add costs to their budget instead of reducing the county’s fiscal needs, which is part of the reason why the county board voted the measure down last month.
Yet the county took a proactive stance on a project that, in hindsight, may have actually done what officials meant for it to do had all 12 counties in southeastern Minnesota cooperated. Commissioners researched a viable solution to longterm problems and cannot be faulted if the answer they found wasn’t the one that would help Mower County taxpayers the most. While some may argue the county spent thousands of dollars trying to make this merger work, it was money well spent if only to help the county shape its policy for an ever-expanding need among county residents for basic human services.
The county did well to pursue a human services merger, and the board showed good leadership in abandoning a plan that clearly wasn’t in the best interest of Mower County citizens.