Proposal would merge two county departments

Two major departments would merge under a proposal Beltrami County commissioners will consider Tuesday. A new Beltrami County Health and Human Services Department would combine the current County Human Services Department with the County Public H...

Two major departments would merge under a proposal Beltrami County commissioners will consider Tuesday.

A new Beltrami County Health and Human Services Department would combine the current County Human Services Department with the County Public Health Nursing Services Department, under the proposal by County Administrator Tony Murphy.

The Beltrami County Board meets in regular session at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave. A usual afternoon work session has been canceled.

The County Human Services Department has been without a permanent director since early January when Deb Allison left to head the Bi-County Community Action Program. Diane Boben, the department's adult and children's services supervisor, was named temporary human services director in the interim.

Murphy now asks to combine departments and will review a draft organizational chart for the consolidated department with commissioners on Tuesday.


The Human Services Department is the county's largest, with nearly 106 full-time equivalent positions and a 2008 budget of $16.7 million.

The County Public Health Nursing Services Department has about 44 full-time equivalent positions and a 2008 budget of $2.49 million, much of it funded by government grants and fees for services.

With the Public Health Nursing Services Department headed by Mary Marchel, commissioners in the past have discussed the possibility of any merger between health and human services functions should consider Marchel as a probable director.

Aside from Allison leaving the Human Services Department, the impetus for a merger has been fostered with the two departments collaborating in implementing a new health plan for public assistance clients.

As of March 1, the county has contracted with Prime West Health to administer a county-based purchasing/managed care model of managing health care for Beltrami County residents enrolled in or eligible for Medical Assistance, General Assistance Medical Care and MinnesotaCare, moving away from a fee for services health care model.

Both Human Services and Public Health Nursing Services departments have been active in the transition to the new system and in working with local providers.

Murphy is asking commissioners, after their review, to:

E Authorize the creation of the consolidated Health and Human Services Department.


E Authorize the creation of a health and human services director position and waive public advertising requirements to fill such position.

E Authorize the creation and filling of positions and vacancies created due to the merger and reorganization of the Health and Human Services Department.

Also Tuesday night, commissioners will meet with a Human Services Department team to discuss proposals to help keep families off public assistance once they have jobs and leave the program, the Minnesota Family Investment Program.

The need arises in recognizing that recidivism is a problem, "in large part due to barriers and certain situations that hamper the ability of these persons to maintain employment and self-sufficiency," according to a memo to commissioners.

Proposed are two amendments to contracts with Rural Minnesota CEP. One would work with families once employed and off MFIP with assistance to keep their jobs, such as car repairs, insurance, bus passes, emergency child care, tools, uniforms, trade licenses, etc.

The second contract amendment would provide support services to families with older children (over age 14) that would continue to support a child who is in a job that MFIP pays the wages but must quit if the parent find work and the MFIP case is closed. Under the amendment, Rural Minnesota CEP would continue to support the youth on the worksite for an additional six weeks, during which time a job counselor would help the youth find unsubsidized work or work with the family on alternatives.

Jail renovation

Commissioners will also be asked to put in motion plans for a $167,600 renovation of the Beltrami County Jail by approving a construction management contract with Construction Analysis & Management, the firm that has been the construction manager on all the county's recent building projects.


The project includes a kitchen upgrade, jail controls upgrade, intake area improvements, mechanical system improvements and similar issues, Murphy said in a memo.

"A Jail Renovation Work Group has been working to refine the scope and schedule of a jail renovation project," Murphy said. CAM would provide technical assistance and help in the selection of a design team.

Also part of the regular meeting, commissioners will receive an update on the activities and priorities of the Sexual Assault Program of Beltrami, Cass and Hubbard Counties.

Consent agenda

The board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of a grant agreement with the Minnesota Trail Assistance Program for a Fourtown/Grygla off-highway vehicle trail, and to consider the recommendation of a county Land Sale/Exchange Committee recommendation to deny requests from Anthony Lyseng, Mark Dillon and Galin Sylvester to exchange private parcels for tax-forfeited parcels.

Commissioners will be asked to support the efforts of the Giziibii Resource Conservation and Development Association in obtaining grant funds for interpretive signing at Three Island and Movil Maze recreation areas of best forest management practices. Commissioners will also be asked to appoint John Winter, county recreational manager, to the Giziibii RC&D Board.

Also on the consent agenda is approval of a 2008 contract with the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District, a 2008 contract with the Marshall-Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District, to fill a full-time sheriff's records tech position, to fill seasonal casual deputies positions for recreation patrol, and a state of Minnesota federal boating safety supplemental grant agreement.

The County Highway Department will ask the board to award bids to the lowest responsible bidder for annual requirements of aggregate crushing, pavement markings and calcium chloride application.


Approval is also asked of a technical evaluation panel's recommendation to OK a proposed wetland replacement plan for Gerald Sizer near Turtle River Lake.

The consent agenda includes Nursing Services bills, approval to replace a full-time public health nurse position vacancy with a full-time registered dietician position, approval of a software system contract for the department, approval of a purchase of service agreement between Nursing Services and Human Services for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, and approval of a statement for Nursing Services Compliance with Accepted Professional Standards and Principles.

In addition to Human Services bills and routine monthly reports and licensing requests, commissioners will be asked to approve a domestic violence grant contract with the Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center.

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