County HHS on top in cost survey

Staff Writer
Ken Francis


Sherburne County HHS continues to be one of the most efficient and cost-effective departments in the state.
Tuesday, HHS Director Ken Ebel told the county board Sherburne County ranked at the top in a recent survey done by Benton County regarding costs.
The 11-county survey compared human services costs in Benton, Chisago, Isanti, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Mille-Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns and Todd counties.
Despite having the fourth-highest number of eligibility specialist caseloads, Sherburne County HHS spent the least  ($182.21) per capita and per $1,000 of tax capacity ($209.75) than any of the other counties surveyed. The county also spent the least per capita on out-of-home placements ($11.30) compared with an average county cost of $32.30.
“Per capita spending on out-of-home placement is mostly county dollars. That is the lowest of all the counties surveyed,” said Ebel. “We work very hard to keep those costs down.”
WIC Program
The board approved $40,000 in funding to cover infant formula for low income Women, Infants & Children (WIC) clients in the event the program is disrupted due to the federal shutdown.
Ebel said due to the gridlock in Congress, funds for the WIC program may run out by the end of October. The $40,000 would come from county funds, rather than federal dollars.
The board also approved a request to send out seven-day layoff notices to three WIC certifier staff members in case the program is shut down. The union contract requires a seven-day advance notice to staff members who may be laid off due to a disruption in program revenues.
Ebel said they are hopeful the feds will strike a deal and funds will not be disrupted.
Other Business
In other action the board:
*Approved setting up a petty cash fund of $300 in the sheriff’s administration office for making change for permit to carry fees;
*Approved a payment of $6,585.68 to UHL Company for replacement of a building automation controller that wasn’t working;
*Proclaimed the week of Oct 22-28 as Minnesota Manufacturers Week;
*Approved a payment of $6,268.27 to Clint’s Excavating for additional cleanup of a buried car and oil contaminated soil on a  county-owned tax forfeit parcel at 1472 165th Ave. in Princeton;
*Approved advertizing for proposals to clean up a tax forfeited parcel in the Palomino Acres development on 169th Street in Orrock Twp.;
*Agreed to send a letter to Alison Lin thanking her for her help in translating letters and forms into Chinese for individuals who do not have English as a first language. The pro bono work helped the Sherburne County Attorney’s Office and Victim Witness Services.


MORGAN ZIMMERMAN fires a shot just under the crossbar for her first goal of the season in Big Lake’s 8-0 win over Spectrum.

BIG LAKE HORNETS VOLLEYBALL. The Hornets won one and lost one this week. Pictured above, Caitlin Deuel jumps for the ball. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

SOPHOMORE KARLEIGH JOHNSON won her first conference match for the Big Lake Hornets varsity tennis team. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

RAYMOND CISNEROS (10) scored five goals and Grant Vickerman (11) had three in Big Lake’s three wins last week. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Photo taken by Chris Lommel