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County to explore forming mental health region

September 18, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday agreed to pursue forming a mental-health region.

The county is currently one of 11 counties in the Northwest Contracting Consortium, acting under a 28E agreement. Due to state-mandated mental-health redesign, the consortium have to form a different 28E organization.

Board chair Bev Juhl said counties want to organize to discuss collaboration. However, Juhl said two questions remain unanswered: Will voting be weighted according to a county's size and will money be pooled.

Dorothy Christensen, Emmet County mental-health coordinator, said if there is a region with 11 counties, money from that entire area would have to be considered as going for any clients in the region.

Juhl noted Woodbury County was worried about a $1 million balance it has.

"We need to be a part of the beginning of the discussion," Juhl said.

Christensen said after Tuesday's meeting that if the consortium formed a mental-health organization that would be a separate agreement. In addition to the current 11 consortium member counties, she said Buena Vista, Calhoun, Ida and Sac counties had been invited to discuss forming a new organization. She said those counties have also been discussing a similar partnership to the south.

Christensen said any agreement would have to be signed by April 1, 2013, when a letter of intent would have to be sent to the state.

Christensen said the state had outlined core services, policies and procedures; however, it has given no direction as far as how the mental-health regions would be governed.

Under the new system, there will be a $47.28 per capita levy for mental-health services. She said Emmet County levies $33.97 over that amount now.

Counties currently under the $47.28 per capital levy would keep their levy at the current level; however, the state would make up the difference, Christensen said.

As an aside, Christensen said in 1995 the state said it would fund growth in mental-health funding but failed to do so.



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