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Commissioners’ Report: Program will focus on the “working poor”

Fri, Jun 27th, 2003
Posted in Features

The good news, according to Fillmore County Director of Social Services, Tom Boyd, is that in the face of declining budgets the state allocation for Income Maintenance Programs will actually increase to $318,000 next year. However, Boyd and his staff just have until July 15 to come up with a program to determine eligibility and how to allocate the funds available. Boyd met with county commissioners on Tuesday for the June Social Services Board meeting which was held during the Fillmore County Board meeting. According to Boyd, the Minnesota legislature this past session created a Consolidated Fund to handle income maintenance, which will be used for emergency assistance, diversionary assistance and workplace programs. Boyd said that these programs will target the “working poor” who are “living on the edge.”“All it takes is a catastrophe - being laid off, someone getting sick, to put them over the top,” Boyd said. He envisions using the program as a safety net to help these people get back on their feet.Commissioner Randy Dahl asked about those who might be abusing the system.“What about those that find enough money on Friday to go drinking?” Dahl asked.Boyd responded that the Income Maintenance programs involves children and social services is focused on helping provide basic services despite the action of parents.Speaking generally about changes in human services, Boyd said that he hasn’t see these kinds of changes in the time he has been involved in social services. “There are lots of hidden cuts and hidden cost shifts,” Boyd said.This prompted Commissioner Duane Bakke to say that he isn’t interested in providing programs that the state isn’t funding. A case in point is the Chore Program that was cut by the county this past month after the state de-funded the program.In other social services’ business, the board:•Approved a contract with the Root River Education District for children’s mental health programming for July 1, 2003-June 30, 2004 not to exceed $28,668.•Approved an Interagency Early Intervention Cooperative Agreement with schools, public health and social services to obtain federal dollars for early childhood intervention services.Habitat for HumanityJerome Gunderson of Mabel appeared during the monthly citizen’s input portion of the county board meeting to discuss the possibility of establishing a county chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Gunderson said that he had seen a few of Habitat’s projects in Florida and was impressed with the benefits to both recipients and volunteers.“It seems like a good thing for our county to get going,” Gunderson told the board, noting that Winneshiek, Mower and Olmsted counties have chapters. Gunderson didn’t expect any specific action from the board on Tuesday, other than to endorse the idea. “It would be nice to get one or two commissioners involved,” Gunderson said.The consensus from the board was that Gunderson’s idea was a good one. “I think it’s something we should look into,” Chairman Marc Prestby said.Commissioner Bakke suggested getting more information from Habitat in Rochester or from these other chapters.

Other business•The board agreed that beginning August 5, the county board will hold their meetings at the new county office building to accommodate courthouse construction. The court system will in turn use the commissioner’s room to hold court.•Judge Robert Benson will be sending a letter to all communities in Fillmore County looking for space to use to hold jury trials during the courthouse construction period. According to Court Administrator Jim Attwood the space would have to be able to hold 35 people for jury selection and have a separate area where a 12 member jury would be able to hold their deliberations.

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