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Family service waits for word on budget cuts

WILLMAR -- The threat of losing $1.23 million in federal funding over the next five years for Kandiyohi County's family service programs has providers and recipients concerned about the effects of those cuts.

The cuts were approved in the federal budget reconciliation bill, but it's not known exactly how the bill will be interpreted and exactly where the cuts will be made. It's expected Minnesota will lose $120 million.

Larry Kleindl, family services director for Kandiyohi County, said the county may not know until April or May how the federal changes will affect Minnesota and Kandiyohi County.

Meanwhile, organizations like Arc Kandiyohi County, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, wants to make sure communication remains open as the budget-cutting process continues.

In a letter from the organization's board, Arc Kandiyohi County Director Arlen Christianson said it's important that people with disabilities continue to receive services "they need to function as independently as possible" despite the budget cuts.

The letter asked for continued dialogue with the county "to make sure that these potential cuts have the least restrictive impact on those in the county who are not able to be heard, and who stand to lose some basic human rights if the wrong decisions are imposed."

Kleindl said the federal cuts, which come on top of state budget reductions a couple years ago, could be devastating for county programs. He said some programs that are mandated, like child protection services, must be provided even if there's a federal budget reduction.

Commissioner Dennis Peterson said the shortfall will have to be made up by the state or county, with the likely contributor being the county. "It makes this no tax increase an even bigger lie," said Peterson, referring to Gov. Pawlenty's pledge for no new taxes.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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