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Discussion about changing county government to increase efficiency and reduce costs continues

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County Administrator Larry Kleindl asked for, and received, support from the County Board of Commissioners for continued discussion of options to redesign county operations to reduce costs through increased efficiencies.

During an update Tuesday, Kleindl said no decisions have been made yet but said the county cannot continue to operate as it currently does as state funding decreases.

"We're going to have to make adjustments," said Kleindl during the regular board meeting. "Everything's on the table."

Some of those changes could mean decreased staff and loss of autonomy for departments, which could create resistance to proposed changes, said Kleindl, adding that no decisions on major changes have been made yet.

He said he would hold meetings with department heads and ask them to visualize the county's money in the middle of the table that needed to be shared to develop a "seamless" system of services that does not necessarily involve the boundaries of each county department.

"We need to do this and we need to make some changes," said Kleindl, who asked for the commissioners' "blessing" to continue discussions and keep pursuing options for potential changes.

At least one change is already in the works, with the county taking over the Circle Sentencing and Restorative Justice program from the PACT for Families organization as a result of staff changes at PACT.

The county attorney's office may be assuming those duties, Kleindl said, which would allow smooth coordination with other programs in that office.

A resolution that was approved Tuesday that allows the public health and family services departments to consolidate at least one program is another example of redesign, said Commissioner Harlan Madsen, as well as efforts to work with neighboring counties to share work and reduce costs.

Madsen said current state law prohibits counties from some cooperative commonsense efforts. He said that could be changed if the Legislature approves the Minnesota Accountable Government Innovation and Collaborate Act, known as the MAGIC Act, which would give local governments more flexibility in how they operate within state law.

At Madsen's urging, the commissioners approved a resolution supporting the act that will be sent to legislators.

Carolyn Lange

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

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