Posted at: 09/13/2012 4:11 PM
Updated at: 09/13/2012 6:37 PM
By: Dan Conradt
Smaller Human Services Consortium Moves Forward
(ABC 6 News) -- You know that old saying about strength in numbers. But some counties in our area say there's still strength, even if their number is down to four.
"Three of the remaining counties have all voted affirmatively," said Mower County Coordinator Craig Oscarson. Those three counties are Mower, Dodge and Steele. “Waseca I believe votes next week."
The vote is to move into what they're calling the "mobilization phase" of a regional Human Services consortium, a group that initially included a dozen counties.
"I would say it's more of a global or general phase, and not the nitty gritty detail," said Oscarson. “Such as if there are four counties, what will the board make-up be? Will it be one county, one vote?"
Even after that there's still another phase.
“Phase two deals with all the inner workings of the other affected departments and agencies," Oscarson explained. “How does the county attorney play into this, how does technology play into this?"
"You're actually probably talking three to five year implementation on this whole process," said Mower County Commissioner Mike Ankeny.
Even then, the partnership will probably slow the rise in costs, rather than reduce them.
"I don't think there's going to be a lot of money savings per se, but I think more efficiencies," Ankeny said.
“By being bigger we can take certain employees and instead of them wearing ten hats, they might wear two or three," added Oscarson.
And that's important at a time when demand for human services, and costs are going up.
"This last year I believe $314,000 over budget, just on out-of-home placement" commissioner Mike Ankeny explained.
Regardless of how many counties take part in the end, each county is expected to keep its own service center.