Hancock County Supervisors on March 1 voted unanimously to join the Central Iowa Community Services (CICS) region for the county’s mental health services.
With the logistics of the move yet to be approved by the CICS Governing Board and the County Board of Supervisors, the change is slated to be effective at the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.
“We have had to do something because we are pretty much an orphan,” said supervisor Gary Rayhons, who is the supervisors’ chair and representative for county mental health.
CICS supports individuals and "strengthens communities" by serving the needs of individuals with mental health and intellectual and other developmental disabilities in 11 Iowa counties: Boone, Greene, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Madison, Marshall, Poweshiek, Story, and Warren Counties.
Russell Wood of CICS said the CICS Governing Board would vote on approval of a 28E agreement at its March 23 meeting, so Hancock County Supervisors could address entering into the agreement as early as its March 29 regular meeting.
In addition, he confirmed that the county’s tax levy for mental health services would be $19 per capita. Hancock County Auditor Michelle Eisenman said that the Hancock County levy for mental health has been $30 per capita with supervisors scheduled to hold a budget hearing in the next week.
Hancock County Supervisors had looked at a couple of other possibilities for partnering with a mental health services region in previous meetings, including Northwest Iowa Care Connections, but ultimately chose CICS.
“We feel we are going to be a better fit to the southern side,” said Rayhons.
Supervisor Jerry Tlach, who is the Board’s alternate representative for mental health, agreed with Rayhons’ assessment and said that for taxpayers alone, the levy amount will be much less by going with CICS, which should also be a very good fit for providing better mental health services to the county’s clients.
Wood said that CICS would begin doing outreach with Hancock County officials, including Sheriff Rob Gerdes, well in advance of the anticipated July 1 mental health services transition.
“We also want this to be as smooth a transition as possible for our clients,” said Rayhons. “I believe that based on our clients’ needs, we fit better with the southern region than over to the west."
In advance of the vote to join the CICS region, supervisors briefly discussed the increased importance of mental health services given the rise of mental health concerns arising from COVID-19 circumstances and the related stresses on so many people. H
ancock County Emergency Response Coordinator Andy Buffington suggested that the county could soon see an influx of new mental health cases. He called mental health a “critical resource” that is underfunded and under managed.
Hancock County Director of Veterans Affairs Gerald Edgar also approached supervisors in advance of their decision on county mental health. He urged supervisors to make mental health funding and management a top priority.
“My function is working with veterans that are not a lot different than the non-veteran population,” said Edgar. “COVID is generating a higher percent of mental health concerns in the elderly and in rural areas. Not everyone is as well-adjusted as you are.”
In other business:
Supervisors set a 10 a.m. April 19 public hearing and approved an engineer’s report for Drainage District No. 66 tile improvements about seven miles southeast of Klemme. Richard Hooper of Jacobson-Westergard recommended annexation and tile line extension for the area.
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.