Housing costs studied

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002

Mower County Correctional Services director Tom Neilon hopes a new program will help reduce the county's soaring out-of-home placement costs.

Neilon received the county board of commissioners' endorsement to fund a new adolescent treatment transition program coordinator position.

Neilon told the commissioners he believes the program will help "kids who cost the county the most money."

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Neilon offered the commissioners outcome data to support the creation of the new position in the MCCS department.

The new position was recommended by the youth advisory committee.

Part of the program will focus on helping youths make the transition from a treatment center into the community to avoid being returned to the center.

Also, Neilon received the county board's endorsement of a new fee system to charge offenders on probation for the county's services.

According to Neilon, other counties employ a fee system ranging from $100 for misdemeanor crimes to $200 for gross misdemeanor crimes.

He anticipates revenues of $105,000 after the program is fully operational and the fees are collected.

The program will include a reciprocity agreement with other Minnesota counties

David Hillier, 3rd District, said the county board's personnel committee agreed with Neilon's findings and recommended the creation of the new position.

Neilon said the position will be reexamined after one year's time to assess its impact and worthiness.

He said places such as the Many Rivers Juvenile Detention Center at Rochester charge as much as $200 per day to house a juvenile.

The new program coordinator's salary and benefits package of between $50,000 and $60,000 will be off-set by the anticipated immediate revenues collected from the probation fees and the reduction in out-of-home placements of youths.

"It's killing us," Neilon said of the county's out-of-home placement costs.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com