Archived Story

Mower is skittish over merger

Published 9:53am Wednesday, June 19, 2013

AUSTIN — A plan to merge human services departments in four counties is on thin, cracking ice in Mower County.

Part way through a meeting Tuesday night to discuss the costs of a Service Delivery Authority that would combine the departments in Mower, Dodge, Steele and Waseca counties, one commissioner urged the board to vote and end the talks.

“I don’t think there’s the votes on the board to pass this,” Commissioner Tony Bennett said.

The board opted to wait to vote until next Tuesday’s board meeting as originally planned, but Tuesday’s meeting with about 13 county employees in attendance indicated commissioners and employees alike are wary of the many unanswered questions and looming $1 million price tag to move ahead.

“A million dollars is an awful lot to risk on such an uncertain venture,” Board Chairman Jerry Reinartz said. “There are so many unanswered questions.”

The commissioners must either merge human services or continue to stand on their own, which would likely require a staff increase and other chances to meet state performance standards.