OSAGE | During the Tuesday, Feb. 27 meeting of the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors, Mitchell County Sheriff Greg Beaver addressed the supervisors regarding his concerns with the potential cutting of the mental health judicial referees.
“It would mean a deputy would have to sit with the individual through their hearing until discharge or placement, which would be a serious blow to my budget,” Beaver said. “It also means deputies would be out of the county and unavailable for the needs of the citizens of Mitchell County.”
Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk discussed the short notice officers and attorneys were often given for these hearings, especially with no ability to give input regarding their own schedules and if the date and time assigned will work for them. Walk said this leaves them scrambling to shuffle schedules to attend hearings.
The possibility of cutting the judicial referees is one of many cuts being proposed, along with the proposal to close several courthouses across the state, which would also require travel by the sheriff’s department and county attorney.
“People in agencies care more about money than the people they are supposed to be serving,” Beaver said. “Everyone talks about what to do about these issues, but no one does anything. The facilities we have now are closing and it’s getting harder to get people the services they need.”
On a county level, Mitchell County Supervisor Stan Walk suggested people continue to be vocal in order to get their messages through to the legislature that the direction they (the legislature) are going in isn’t working.
“People are wanting good schools and Medicaid to remain functioning,” Walk said.
Beaver also spoke about how difficult it would get, on a local level, if the judicial referees were done away with.
“Right now, we take them to Five East and we drop them off,” Beaver said. “The hearings are handled by the judicial referees. The deputy doesn’t have to be there nor does the county attorney. It’s not always Five East either, sometimes we have to go to Polk County, if there are no beds available in Mason, so what do we do then?”
In addition to potentially cutting the judicial referees, another potential change coming from legislature, is the consideration of switching mental health to be funded by sales tax.
These potential changes prompted a great deal of conversation during the course of the meeting, with the supervisors expressing their fears Iowa, with all of it’s proposed cuts, was going to leave itself in a very precarious position. Mention was also made of the cuts made in Kansas and the way Iowa is slowly heading towards the same issues Kansas has faced since those cuts began.
“Iowa is going to join Kansas in going down hill with these tax cuts,” Supervisor Walk said. “They cut so much there is no room for anything.”