Washington County officials are requesting more staff next year to address increased caseloads for social service programs.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners conducted their second 2017 budget workshop after their Aug. 23 meeting. The board heard budget requests from Community Services, Public Health and Environment, and the Library System.
Dan Papin, community services director, submitted a budget request of $43,890,700. His department’s workload is growing, he said, and state dollars are not keeping pace.
“The feds continue to hold up their end of the bargain but it's frustrating since the vast majority of the mandates that we provide — and they’re not all all bad mandates, don’t get me wrong — but they are imposed by the state. Everything we do as a department is to comply with those mandates.”
Papin cited two main areas of concern:
-- an increase in applications to MnSure, the state run health care exchange for which the county pays 50 percent of the cost to administer;
-- a jump in assessments for MnCHOICES, an independent living support program for the elderly and disabled.
While the MnCHOICES program is paid for by state and federal tax dollars, Papin said they need to hire an administrative worker to deal with a bigger caseload.
“We don’t mind paying our share,” he said. “They continually have reduced the state share, added more county share, yet the mandates haven’t changed. So it falls on the backs of the county commissioners to balance the budget.”
The property tax increase requested is 1.9 percent in Community Services.
“We do shift dollars where we can to minimize the impact on taxpayers,” Papin said. “Not everything translates to a levy increase.”
The youngest and oldest citizens in the county continue to be exploited, Papin said. He is asking the Washington County Board to hire a full-time adult protection social worker to help respond to a 54 percent increase in adult elderly exploitation reports over a two-year period.
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County seeks more staff to address growing social service caseloads