A potential state government shut down looms Friday, inciting Yellow Medicine County Family Services Director Peggy Heglund and commissioners to determine what family services the county would continue to provide if a budget agreement is not reached.

 




A potential state government shut down looms Friday, inciting Yellow Medicine County Family Services Director Peggy Heglund and commissioners to determine what family services the county would continue to provide if a budget agreement is not reached.
With expectations that courts will approve Governor Mark Dayton’s request to continue funding medical, group residential (assisted living, foster care etc.), financial aid, food service support and other services deemed essential, Heglund said the main issue concerns state grants that may be reduced, or de-funded entirely, once the budget is settled.
“This is the risk we would agree to be taking as a county if we agree to pay these services because we don’t know if the grants will be retroactive,” she said.
With this in mind, Heglund made recommendations to commissioners that were approved without formal action during the Tuesday board meeting.
Employment services, child care for low income adults and chemical dependency treatment were deemed acceptable areas to cut.
Children and adult mental health, disability, and Family Relative Custody Assistance would continue to be funded.
Comments by Heglund concerning expectations that the state would reduce funding for some grants, causing counties to have to pick up the slack, drew the ire of commissioners.
“So in other words what you’re saying is when they get done balancing the budget they’re going to stick us with [additional expense] so that we can raise our taxes on our people so that they don’t have to raise their  taxes... this is the biggest bunch of bull I’ve ever seen in my life,” said commissioner Louis Sherlin.
Other than cuts to family services, County Administrator Ryan Krosch said that he did not foresee other services provided by the county being greatly affected.

Other news:
Minnesota Falls Dam – Commissioners agreed that Yellow Medicine County representatives would meet with those of the city of Granite Falls and Chippewa County to discuss possibilities for public ownership of the Minnesota Falls Dam.
Public ownership of the dam is considered necessary if an entity is to receive state funds that would help in the restoration or construction of a new dam.
New Website – IT Coordinator Dennis Pederson showcased the county’s new website. Pederson said the website’s intent was to make it easier for individuals to access online capabilities and county services and to also personalize the site to reflect the county area.
The old website’s web address will link to the new website’s address – http://co.ym.mn.gov/ – for thirty days then become obsolete.
Passport service ending – Come fall, Yellow Medicine County will no longer process passport applications. But the service is expected to be picked up by the Granite Falls Post Office.
According to Krosch, with the county’s plans for department reorganization it will cause it to no longer meet requirements of the U.S. Department of State which stipulates that passport applications be accepted by individuals other than those who process birth certificates (and driver’s licenses).
Under the county’s old model of function, in which the County Recorder’s Office issued birth certificates and the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office processed passports applications, this was not an issue. But because the reorganization combines departments, for efficiency and improved constituent services, it results in the conflict.
According to Krosch, commissioners passed a resolution in a 4-1 vote with commissioner Ron Antony dissenting only because he disagreed with taking away the administration of the service from the county.
The Granite Falls Post Office is expected to take over the new function sometime in the fall.
Council on Local Results and Innovation – In order to determine how effectively cities and counties provide services, the legislatively created Council on Local Results and Innovation wants cities and counties to take part in a standard measurement program.
The program asks cities and counties to report specific data on a set of 10 services, from public safety to park quality. While participation is voluntary, cities and counties who go along with the program are incentivized through a possible reimbursement in Local Government Aid (LGA), and exemption from levy limits.
According to Krosch, board members approved the county’s participation in the program, viewing the program criteria relatively easy to meet and participation advisable to ensure budget flexibility.
Commissioner Gary Johnson was the lone dissenting vote. Johnson disagreed with the state’s attempt to further direct counties how to operate.