As a Woodbury County supervisor elected to safeguard taxpayer dollars and help provide high-quality services, I want to lay out some facts regarding mental health funds.
More than $3.6 million in county tax dollars have gone to the Sanford Center since 2006, but in 2014 County Attorney P.J. Jennings halted direct tax dollars before any of the current board had been elected. The reasoning besides a conflict-of-interest with then-Sanford Center Executive Director and Woodbury County Supervisor George Boykin was that a fair process was lacking without an RFP (request for proposal).
What most people did not know is that the Sanford Center had been receiving most of its county tax dollars through the mental health levy. The Sioux City Schools receives $450,000 and then gives the Sanford Center $260,000 for five outreach workers. The rest goes to Siouxland Mental Health’s licensed therapists.
Like our county attorney, I questioned the process and whether or not — as noble as this work is — mental health was what was being served.
After learning that the school district had some federal funding to be used expressly for mental health services, Plymouth County Supervisor Don Kass and I asked district leadership how they came to choose the Boys and Girls Home to provide services. Unsurprisingly, it was through a published RFP calling for licensed clinicians, so our proposal followed suit. We put forward a plan to maintain funding payments through June 30, 2018, but then asked that if regional funds in the future were given to the school district for mental health that the district be required to expend such funds on licensed clinicians. The Regional Governance Board of Sioux Rivers disappointingly voted 3-3 against our plan, one of a host of many issues problematic with the Regional Governance Board.
Asking hard questions comes at a price, but I will continue to do so because it’s the right thing to do. Thanks for listening. - Jeremy Taylor, Woodbury County supervisor, Sioux City