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Dodge, Steele, Waseca Counties To Merge Human Services

Created: 05/21/2014 4:23 PM KAALtv.com

(ABC 6 News) - Three area counties are making a major move, which officials say, will save big money.

Dodge, Steele and Waseca Counties have agree to form the Minnesota Prairie County Alliance and merge their human service departments. Authorities say the move will streamline operations and help better serve citizens.

County officials say the new agency will be able to consolidate many administrative activities that are currently duplicated across the three agencies. They says their pooled resources will also enable them to purchase and use technologies that were once cost prohibitive.

"We need to prepare for a future that will require us to serve more people more effectively," said Nina Huntington, Steele County commissioner and chairperson of the Minnesota Prairie County Alliance Steering Committee. "And we simply can't do that by staying the course and hoping for the best. We need to adapt. Our citizens need us to adapt."

From 2001 to 2011, Dodge, Steele and Waseca Counties' human services expenditures increased by 39 percent while federal and state funding rose by only 4 percent. The population in those three counties is also expected to increase by 14 percent over the next 20 years - accompanied by a 59 percent increase in people 85 and older.

The counties will begin to combine their human services on June 1, 2014. The official merger will take place on January 1, 2015.