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Mental health funding up for debate

Clinton Herald - 10/25/2017

Oct. 25--CLINTON -- Clinton County Supervisors will meet next month with supervisors from four other counties in the Eastern Iowa Mental Health region to discuss funding issues within the region.

Supervisors from Clinton, Cedar, Jackson, Muscatine and Scott counties will meet Nov. 14 to discuss the implications of Senate File 504, passed in May. The legislation changes the way the Eastern Iowa Mental Health region levies taxes for the five counties. The legislation resulted in Clinton County and three other counties in the region being required to drop the levy from $30.78. The total cash fund balance currently sits at $13.9 million, while Clinton County has currently contributed about $3 million.

"That is still sitting in there," Clinton County Mental Health Coordinator Becky Eskildsen said. "That has not been touched. We've just been using our taxpayer dollars over the past several years to manage our services here. So I think one of the big things we're looking at is this Nov. 14 meeting, which is going to be and I know Mr. Hamerlinck and Eric Van Lancker have also heard this presentation by David Farmer, going to walk through Senate File 504 and its ramifications. It has a lot of far reaching ramifications for our community and our region and the whole state of Iowa. How we're going to mindfully spend down fund balances while investing in services, making sure our citizens have the best possible services we can for mental health. It's going to be a tight rope because how do you balance fund balance, spending, continuing to levy?"

Clinton County officials and officials in the four other counties have been presented with three possible solutions to the regionalization for mental health services. One proposed model has Clinton, Cedar, Jackson and Muscatine counties levying at $30.78 for fiscal year 2018 and Scott County levying at $19. The second proposed model proposes a levy for all five counties at $19.30 for fiscal year 2019. The second proposal would lead to the region having a negative of $3.3 million in fiscal year 2022 and a negative of $7 million in fiscal year 2023. The third model calls for all five counties levying at $19.30 for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. All five counties would levy at $30.78 for fiscal years 2021, 2022 and 2023.

"If I remember right none of these three models met the regional fund balance threshold that they're supposed to be at," Van Lancker said. "I guess what I was biting my tongue on earlier is when I went to this meeting with Becky and Shawn, quite frankly I was shockingly disappointed in the options they put out there for the regional government board to consider. And I'm still surprised this is what we're going to see on Nov. 14."

Staff Writer John Rohlf can be reached at


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