Officials consider human services redesign

Published 9:26 am Monday, September 3, 2012

Commissioners slated to vote Tues.

Freeborn County commissioners are slated to vote Tuesday on whether to be a part of possible six-county collaboration for delivering human services.

County officials attended a meeting Thursday to find out more information about the vision for a Southeastern Minnesota Redesign Project, along with officials from Mower, Steele, Dodge, Houston and Waseca counties.

However, there are still many unanswered questions, said Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever, including costs to take part in the collaboration and potential savings.

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When the collaboration still included 12 counties, Accenture, the firm hired to study the merger, estimated the counties would 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.

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

“It’s everybody’s assumption the cost avoidance is going to be much, much less,” Kluever said.

He said the next phase of the project, which involves forming steering committees and governance boards, plus additional oversight from the consultant firm, is estimated to cost $160,000, about half of which is expected to come from a grant. Counties will pick up the remaining cost, based on population.

Kluever said Freeborn County’s priority is to balance cost and delivery of human services.

Because no new fiscal models have been presented showing estimated costs and savings, the upcoming decisions by the six counties will likely be based on whether they agree with visions on how the services will be delivered.