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Counties set for redesign meeting

Published 10:25am Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Six county governments are set to iron out details on a proposed collaboration for delivering human services.

The county commissioners for the six counties still involved in the Southeastern Minnesota Redesign Project — Mower, Freeborn, Steele, Dodge, Houston and Waseca — will meet at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss their visions for merging the human services departments of the six counties, particularly “best management practices” or how the counties would balance mandated and preventative services.

Another key concern is savings. Under the 12-county model, Accenture, the firm hired to study the merger, estimated the counties could save about $60.6 million over the next five years — about $34.8 million in county dollars, $23.5 million in federal dollars and $2.5 million in state funds. Mower County’s cost avoidance was $1.77 million, and another model shows $4.7 million in cost avoidance for the county over the first 15 years.

However, the numbers are now in question after half the 12 counties involved in the original study dropped out.

After the meeting, commissioners from each county still involved will vote on whether to continue on as part of the project.