The Winnebago, Hancock, Worth and Kossuth Counties’ boards of supervisors met to discuss forming a new mental health region.
However, ultimately, the counties can not do anything, according to Hancock County Supervisor Chairman Jerry Tlach.
“Nothing really came out of it,” Tlach said.
The Supervisors met June 12 at the Kossuth County Board of Supervisors room in Algona, and learned the four counties were already assigned as part of the County Social Services mental health region for next year.
The four counties have been trying for a couple of years to leave CSS, which has 22 counties including Hancock, Worth, Winnebago and Kossuth counties, because, despite each county paying into the region equally, CSS is not redistributing that money relative to how much is being given by each county.
Winnebago County Supervisor Chairman Terry Durby said the intent of the meeting was to form their own region and challenge the state to see what they would do to them.
However, the supervisors discovered the money from the mental health levy that goes into each county legally cannot be used even for mental health if they were not recognized by the state.
“That money would go towards CSS, since that’s where we were assigned,” Durby said. “So you’ve got to play by the state rules.”
Tlach said there was really no option to form their own region.
“It’s going to be really hard to do, if not impossible, without the state legislators changing the laws to help us do it,” he said.
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The Supervisors discussed what Iowa House Representative Ted Gassmann had said on behalf of the legislature regarding their ability to form their own region, but Durby said for this year, that’s not possible.
However, at the end of the meeting, the supervisors decided on a small contingency visiting the Northwest Iowa Care Connection mental health region, which currently consists of six counties, and “make one last effort to try to make out a deal with them to go over to that region while still protecting their funds and trying to keep them separate,” Durby said.
The four counties had spoken with the NICC ra year ago. The NICC was not interested in letting them join at that time, but we are going to ask them again, Tlach said.
Durby said everybody was a little disappointed they couldn’t really do what they wanted to do.
“We just want to provide good services more locally,” he said. “We think we can do that in a more efficient manner and provide all the services we need, but when there’s no mechanism in state code to allow for that, you’re hands are tied.”
Tlach said the counties are currently “in limbo” on what to do unless another region allows the four to join.
Kossuth County is currently going through arbitration with CSS, and Winnebago County is meeting with CSS to discuss the money they owe to CSS on Tuesday, June 18.
Right now, Hancock County is going to stay where they’re at, and they would seriously look at seeing if another region would allow them to join, Tlach said.
“I guess we’ll just have to go slow and see what we can do,” he said.