12-county Human Services redesign moving forward

Published 10:36 am Friday, March 16, 2012

ROCHESTER — Officials from Mower and 11 other counties got their first look Thursday at a Human Services redesign model that could mean significant future cost savings.

The 12 counties that make up the Southeast Minnesota Redesign Project met in Rochester for Accenture — the group that created the study — to outline a regionalized Human Services plan.

Accenture projects the counties could reduce future costs by about $29 million — a 7 to 9 percent expenditure reduction — over five years if the counties merge and switch to a regional model.

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Now, each county will have to decide whether to move forward by May 1.

“I think it’s doable,” Mower County Human Services Director Julie Stevermer said, noting that the ultimate decision will come from the county board.

Stevermer expects Mower County could save up to $1 million in future expenditures. Olmsted County — the region’s largest county — could reduce five-year costs by as much as $21 million. But smaller counties like Fillmore would only save about $150,000.

After each of the 12 counties decides whether or not to participate, Stevermer said, the counties will begin talking about how to implement the regional model.

The change won’t likely happen until 2015.

Stevermer said discussions about potential staff reductions — which would likely come gradually — and how many employees they will have will be based out of Mower County.

“We probably will have services located here,” Stevermer said. “To what degree we don’t know.”

Stevermer said Human Services changes will not affect the Government Center remodel or the merger of Health and Human Services.