Human Services facing deficit

Published 5:00 pm Friday, December 10, 2010

With the county focusing on the 2011 budget, there are still uncertainties in one of the county’s largest departments for 2010.

Mower County Human Services is facing a deficit of about $425,000, and department heads and the county board are looking for ways to confront the problem.

“It doesn’t look pretty, folks,” Director Julie Stevermer said Thursday during the county board meeting.

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One initial factor driving the costs is out of home placements, where children must be placed outside their parents’ home. Stevermer said other mandated costs popped up in the last few months to spur on the budget concerns.

“They add up fast,” Stevermer said.

Another difficult task is place child sex offenders because there are so few housing options available. Stevermer also said Human Services must pay guardian ad litem and conservator costs that have climbed.

Stevermer said the budget concerns will be an ongoing issue in the future, and solutions are hard to come by because of the services that are required of the county.

“We’ll probably be continuing our discussions because this isn’t going to go away,” Stevermer said.

The board will look to some regional services to see what can be done.

Commissioner David Hillier warned such challenges can often lead to more stress for staff, which can also cause health problems or it can cause employees to seek other jobs.

While Stevermer said the county has little control over costs, she noted payroll costs within Human Services are still on par, Stevermer said.

“We’re still lean,” she said.