Community Action split studied

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 1999

The Community Action Agency will continue to investigate the option of splitting from the county and becoming a not-for-profit agency.

Thursday, December 23, 1999

The Community Action Agency will continue to investigate the option of splitting from the county and becoming a not-for-profit agency. Freeborn County commissioners on Tuesday approved a motion to continue the study that began in July 1998.

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Collette Turcotte, director of the Community Action Agency, said the board first looked at the possibility of joining with neighboring community action programs.

&uot;We looked at all our neighbors and decided that wasn’t what we wanted to do,&uot; Turcotte said. &uot;We’ve decided to continue looking into going out on a our own.&uot;

There were a number of reasons the board thought joining with other CAPs would not be advantageous to Freeborn County CAA.

&uot;We don’t want to lose what we’ve worked for in the last 16 years,&uot; Turcotte said.

The agency has worked hard to meet the needs of its clients, Turcotte said. Joining with another CAP would probably bring the loss of some programs necessary to serve the residents of Freeborn County.

&uot;We don’t want to be in a bigger system and have to do things their way,&uot; Turcotte said. Flexibility in programming has become necessary to keep up with the needs of the public. &uot;We aren’t so entrenched in programs now that we can’t turn on a dime if we need to.&uot;

Money also plays into the decision, Turcotte said. If Freeborn County CAA joined another CAP organization, they would likely have to pay administrative fees.

&uot;That would mean less money for us, which means less service,&uot; Turcotte said.

Funding wouldn’t be the only asset it would lose. It would also lose a voice in matters, Turcotte said. The Freeborn County CAA has a 15-member board, but would only be able to have two or three on the board if it joined another agency.

Additionally, CAA considered the option of becoming a part of Semcac, but dismissed that for similar reasons.

Freeborn County Community Action Agency originally began the study when it was approved in July. Olmstead is the only other CAP in the state that is run by the county; all other community action programs are non-profit organizations.

Gaining a 501.(c)3, not for profit, status would allow CAA to qualify for more grant dollars, Turcotte said. Because it is a government agency, CAA doesn’t qualify for a number of grants.

Since the county board gave the approval for an 18-month study, the CAA board has another 13 months to look at the options. Determining if it can make it independently is now the focus.

In other action, the Freeborn County board:

* Approved repair on various county ditches.

* Approved final payment in the amount of $30,648.52 to Holm Brothers Construction for SAP 24-612-09; and final payment in the amount of $14,760.28 to Minnowa Construction, Inc. for SAP 24-599-15.

* Granted a conditional use permit to Rick’s Enterprises Inc. to allow it to be able to dismantle, demolish and recycle manufactured housing within the existing 9,000 square foot building and exterior storage for up to 12 mobile homes. The business is located in Bath Township.

* Accepted a $10,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation to help the Community Action Agency continue its &uot;Welfare to Work&uot; programming. The grant for fiscal years 2000-2001 will be used for a part-time position for Kathy Sickels who will help residents find and maintain permanent employment. The grant is an extension of a $31,000 grant offered by McKnight to initiate the efforts.

* Granted regular status to Merlin Kath within the Court Services department.

* Set the capitalization of fixed assets threshold for Freeborn County at $2,500.

* Appointed William M. Helfritz as the person with overall responsibility for the audit of Freeborn County conducted by the State Auditors.

* Approved a motion to proceed with an effort to buy property from EXOL.

&uot;One thing the county was adamant about was that Freeborn County would have the right to purchase land,&uot; Brian Jordahl, chairman of the board said.

When Freeborn County sold the land, it was agreed that it could buy the land back at the original sale price plus the value of improvements.

&uot;We believe the improvements to be physical improvements,&uot; Gene Smith, county administrator, said.

However, EXOL is asking for $10,000 an acre, Jordahl said.

&uot;I think the county needs to exercise its right to buy that land,&uot; Jordahl said.

The board approved a motion to allow Smith to proceed.

* Went into closed session to consider issues related to collective bargaining.