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Yellow Medicine County considers what family services to halt in shutdown

GRANITE FALLS -- Child care that helps low-income parents re-enter the work force, treatment programs for juvenile offenders in custody, and chemical dependency treatment are among the areas where human service cuts are most likely to be made first by Yellow Medicine County.

The Yellow Medicine County board of commissioners discussed the implications for the delivery of family service programs in the county in the event of a state shutdown at their meeting on Tuesday.

The commissioners took no formal action, and said they would take a "wait and see'' approach. If a shut down occurs, County Administrator Ryan Krosch said the county would not likely make any formal decisions until their July 12 meeting.

The commissioners also indicated a willingness to consider possible cutbacks in some services on a case-by-case basis, although they noted the difficulties that would present.

Family Services Director Peggy Heglund outlined the areas where a state shutdown would leave the county with the decision of continuing to provide services without state funding support. Those areas became the focus for discussions on what services the county would possibly discontinue during a state shutdown.

Heglund recommended, and the commissioners concurred, that the county would pick up the full tab to continue mental health services to adults and children, assistance to disabled persons and children in foster care with relatives.

Heglund also noted that Project Turnabout has indicated that it would continue to provide chemical dependency treatment during a state shutdown, even though it risked not receiving state reimbursement for some patients.

Heglund's recommendations are based on the expectations that the governor's request to the courts that state funding for essential services such state medical services, food assistance and group residential services be continued.

Commissioners noted that Prairie Fives Community Action Council may close congregate dining sites if a shutdown occurs, but hopes to maintain home delivery of meals and for at least two weeks, its transportation services.

The Private Industry Council is also discussing what employee services it would continue absent state funding. The county contributes a portion of the funding to employment services. The commissioners listed this as an area they are "on the fence'' in terms of whether to continue funding or not.

The county does not anticipate any significant disruption in its services outside of family services if a shutdown occurs. The county receives some state funding for planning and zoning, and feedlot inspections, and it might need to pick up the costs for materials inspections on some road construction projects.

The prospect of a state shutdown angered Commissioner Louis Sherlin, Canby, who charged that the state is reducing its budget by placing more of the costs on the counties and consequently, property taxes.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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