Human services considers cuts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2003

Preparation for the anticipated fallout from the state budget deficit continues in Mower County.

David Hillier, 3rd District and chair of the county board's finance committee, said departments continue to work with the budget committee. The committee is seeking input on 5, 10 and 20 percent budget reductions in anticipation of huge cutbacks in state spending when the 2003 legislative session ends.

On Tuesday, Hillier showed the commissioners another film from the Association of Minnesota Counties. It marked the third meeting in which the county commissioners have watched an AMC video on what the $4.2 billion state deficit could mean to Mower County.

Email newsletter signup

This week, the focus was health and human services and displaced workers.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposals would remove the "safety net" from the most vulnerable of citizens, according to the AMC.

That safety net provides opportunities for self-sufficiency of those citizens and to strengthen the economy of local communities.

Specifically, Mower County could see a reduction of funding and a shifting of state costs to county taxpayers by requiring counties to pay 10 percent of the costs for developmentally disabled citizens in some facilities.

Also, adult mental health treatment could be curtailed, grants to serve children could be consolidated and reduced by 25 percent and the county would have to take on a larger burden of welfare reform.

Finally, the steadily growing need to help displaced workers would not be addressed.

As Hillier has frequently pointed out, 70 to 85 percent of what Mower County does is because of a state or federal mandate to provide that program or service.

"We believe if there is a reduction in funding, there should also be a reduction in some of the mandates we are being asked to fund," Hillier said.

Hillier also shared with his county commissioner-peers a report on per capita spending for fiscal year 2001. The report showed Mower County in the bottom third of Minnesota's 87 counties for expense per capita.

"When you're already below the state average in per capita spending for your citizens, there's not much room to maneuver in a situation like this," he said. "Where else can we go?"

In other action Tuesday, the county commissioners:

n Scheduled an improvement hearing at 7 p.m. April 28 for Bellman's Addition property owners to discuss proposed new sanitary sewer improvements.

n Discussed final assessment hearing for residents of Dinsmoor Acres concerning the public improvements made to the residential subdivision, which is to be annexed into the city of Austin. No hearing date was set.

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 434-2232 or by e-mail at