Morrison County Social Services staffing level to drop

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

 

After an upper-level financial unit supervisor resigned in April, Morrison County Social Services Director Brad Vold brought a request for department restructuring to the County Board. He requested that the upper-level supervisor’s position be eliminated, but that two eligibility workers in that department be added. Two lower-level supervisors would each oversee a portion of the unit.

After the Board was unwilling to consider adding another position, Vold proposed maintaining the current level of staffing in the unit at 16 by replacing the upper-level supervisor with an eligibility worker, a move that would reduce costs.

“This unit has felt the stress of the whole community in terms of lost jobs and the need for food and medical care,” Vold said. “If we wait to fill the position, I have some concerns about the staff in the unit.”

Since 2008, the unit has seen an increase in cases from 2,363 to 3,005, with the highest increase in health care and SNAP (formerly food stamps) cases. In addition, the unit lost a half-time position in 2008.

“The County Board was presented with a number of options regarding the staff level and structure of the financial unit within Social Services,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber.

“The recommendation included replacing the current vacancy with an eligibility worker and also adding another eligibility worker to help with the likely increase in work load due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

After throwing out Vold’s original request, the Board also declined to maintain staffing at the current level. The commissioners voted Tuesday to not hire any replacement.

“The Board voted to not fill the current vacancy at all and move forward with only 15 staff total in the unit,”

Gruber said. “Additional discussion will have to occur regarding the structure of the unit, since there currently is not a supervisor in place.”

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Other business that came before the County Commissioners Tuesday included:

• Proclaiming May to be Mental Health Awareness Month;

• Approving the application of a market provision to the chief deputy (the same provision recently negotiated for deputy compensation), a one-time pay increase of 50 cents per hour. “The chief deputy acts on the sheriff’s behalf in his absence,” said Commissioner Jeff Jelinski. “He’s still paid under average;”

• Approving 2013 new establishment owners licenses for Old Bank Restaurant in Pierz and the Silver Bullet Bar and Grill, both in Pierz;

• Approving additional license services for Nouis Home Care in Little Falls, to add five lodging units;

• Approving seasonal establishment license renewals for Auger’s Pine View Resort and Silo Ice Cream in Motley, Manka’s in Cushing, Dairy Treat in Little Falls and the Pierz Municipal Campground and Clubhouse;

• Approving Morrison County’s sponsorship of the Morrison County Recreational Trail Association. “We’re just a facilitator in that process,” Gruber said. “When money for the Association comes to the county, it is given directly to the trails;”

• Hearing that only nine counties out of 87 in the state have a higher rate of recycling than Morrison County; and

• Learning that the Public Works 46 times this season for snow and ice control. “In a typical season it’s about 30,” said Steve Backowski, Public Works Director. “Additional salt use has been $60,000 and overtime is $45,000 more than a normal season. The ‘winter that wasn’t’ (last season) has been used up by the ‘winter that was.’”

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the County Board will be Tuesday, May 7 at 9 a.m. in the board room at the County Government Center.

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