Woodbury County is going through an appeal process with the Iowa Department of Human Services on mental health region transition, but it's possible the county will re-enter Sioux Rivers - one of several options possible - before joining Rolling Hills on July 1, 2019. The move to Rolling Hills represents a far better future for many reasons, including fiscal longevity, budget planning with providers and transparency/oversight.
Before that can happen, a new 28E agreement for the 2018-2019 interim year would be necessary. At stake are far greater things than personality conflicts as this has always been about doing what's right for the folks we represent. A new 28E agreement would address matters of deep concern to mental health services and the safeguarding of tax dollars. They include the following:
• How to settle on a fair solution for a crisis center currently owned by the three counties here in Sioux City. This center helps those in mental health crisis, lessens the burden on hospitals and is utilized by Woodbury County residents more than 95 percent of the time. Sioux/Plymouth have suggested the center belong 100 percent to them after Woodbury County exits Sioux Rivers. They do not have the financial resources to run it except by cutting some services delivered there or by charging Woodbury County taxpayers $413 per person per day to utilize something in which we made a startup cost investment of 62 percent, or roughly $300,000.
• We want to safeguard any Woodbury County tax dollars that are levied over and above what service costs are for Sioux Rivers in 2018-2019. In a year even with the lowest Woodbury County tax levy in 15 years, we built in a requested upfront contribution to Rolling Hills. This is designed to gain parity with their healthy, seven-county reserve level, resulting in all Rolling Hills-member counties having an equitable potential tax decrease in future years.
• We want a governing document that addresses some other issues including equitable voting, non-core services, the integrity of mental health dollars, and a way in which all three counties can seek their own best interests. This can allow Sioux/Plymouth's desire to bring in another county to be a viable, three-county region and include language that says they will not take actions to make it more difficult than necessary for Woodbury County to move to a new region.
One thing is certain: In Woodbury County, we have levied for and have excellent providers to ensure that mental health services are in place July 1. We look forward to DHS’ leadership, potentially good cooperative talks and a bright future for those in need of such services here in Woodbury County. - Jeremy Taylor, Sioux City, Woodbury County supervisor