Shutdown effects still a mystery

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One thing is for certain about the potential government shutdown: No one really knows what’s going to happen.

County officials discussed the budget fight and shutdown during Tuesday’s county board meeting. To many, it’s not a question of if, but a question of how long a shutdown will be.

“It could be a real mess,” Commissioner Jerry Reinartz said.

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The biggest concern for the county is reimbursements for state mandated services. Right now, many groups are indicating there’s no guarantee the state will reimburse counties for services subject to layoffs.

“If they don’t give us money, why should we be expected to use our own,” said Tim Gabrielson, board chairman.

Human Services Director Julie Stevermer said her office won’t know until the last minute what will keep running.

It’s possible the layoffs could affect county employees in state funded roles if the shutdown is long with certain services not being considered core services, according to County Coordinator Craig Oscarson.

$6.1M came through county for child support

Child support isn’t cheap in Mower County.

Last year, about $6.1 million of child support money was dispersed in Mower County, according to child support officer Jodi Krueger.

“That’s pretty significant for a county of this size,” she said.

Krueger updated the county board Tuesday about the roles and work in her office. Her office has about 2,700 cases, and the sixth highest case load per employee in the state.

“We’re a small but mighty unit,” she said,

The job has gotten much more difficult in the last decade, according to Krueger. She said many people are having a hard time finding stable employment, which makes it difficult to pay child support.

Krueger said a small group of clients take up the majority of the work, while the bulk of clients pay in a timely manner.

“It does get to be a little bit tricky from time to time,” she said.