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BREAKING NEWS

County OKs new ECHO Plus rates

By Staff | Feb 20, 2008

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved paying higher rates to ECHO Plus for the 2009 budget year.

Emmet County Mental Health Coordinator Dorothy Christensen said she had met with ECHO Executive Director Dan Youngblut to negotiate a rate payment schedule for fiscal 2009 which is based on ECHO’s actual cost for 2007. Christensen said the rates were already figured into her fiscal 2009 budget.

Supervisor Jim Jenson asked Christensen how the rates compared with those of other facilities.

“”They’re on the lower end,” Christensen said, noting that by the time the rates are put into effect they are actually one year behind actual costs. She said ECHO had the lowest rates of all other service providers in the area.

The rates range from a 1.66 percent increase in transportation to 25.1 percent for pre-vocational training, an increase from $33.15 to $41.47 a day.

The board approved the rate change, then heard a request from Christensen on funding for the Integrated Services Pathway Project, a counseling program for prisoners in the Emmet County Jail. The program is conducted by the Seasons Center.

Christensen said Seasons was asking for $525.50 a month for the program. She said the money came from a grant that ended April 30, 2007, and permission was given to use any remaining money. Christensen said counties were being asked to match as much of the program cost as possible to continue the program.

Supervisor Roger Anderson said he was involved when the grant was first offered to Emmet County.

“There’s been some success with this,” Anderson said, adding that the program helped deter crime.

Sheriff Larry Lamack also spoke of his experience with the program. He said a counselor comes to the jail every Monday and asks whether any prisoners are in need of services. Lamack said the counselor has also come on other days when prisoners may indicate they are thinking of harming themselves. He said the counselor has also lined up referrals and medications. “I think it’s a great benefit,” Lamack said.

Lamack spoke specifically to the work that the counselor had done, saying, “I think she does a wonderful job.”

The supervisors discussed funding levels. Supervisor Randy Beaver said he did not favor total funding while Jenson said he wanted to speak with the counselor first before approving money for the program.

Auditor Bev Juhl said there was enough money in the court services budget to cover the cost.