Our Opinion: Move is right choice

Published 9:01 am Friday, November 8, 2013

Mower County recently moved its health and human services department back to the Government Center as part of the center’s $4.3-million renovation. While such a high figure can seem daunting to taxpayers, county officials are to be commended for saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year by bringing health and human services back downtown.

The math is simple: Add one new department to the Government Center, yet subtract $13,000 to $15,000 a month in rent paid to the Oak Park Mall, where health and human services has been for the past nine years — a location county officials have long said was temporary. That isn’t even counting utilities payments, transportation costs, worker productivity, and other expenses that can easily pile up.

By moving health and human services, county officials will put much-needed taxpayer money back into county programs. It’s no secret local governments are feeling the effects of decreasing state funding, and with a lower tax base like the one in Mower County, many county programs struggle to keep up with the services residents need.

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That should change with the move. More efficiency, a clear decrease in expenses and more opportunity to serve the public means better county services for things like Women, Infant and Children (WIC) initiatives, and increased access to basic health needs. For a county struggling with poverty and hunger, a boost in funding that won’t cost taxpayers even more dollars is a plus.

That’s only if county officials wisely use the money, however. We are satisfied with the county’s planning thus far, and we hope county officials continue to find ways to maximize tax dollars while minimizing taxpayer expenditures.