The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

December 18, 2012

Mental health redesign plan comes under fire

Legislators hear concerns about redesign

CLINTON — Iowa state legislators Mary Wolfe and Steve Olson heard concerns about the mental health redesign Monday morning.

The Clinton County Board of Supervisors held its annual meet and greet with the legislators. During the meeting, the board, as well as members of the county, expressed concerns about the mental health redesign and its effect on the county.

“I don’t think it’s bad for us to re-examine those services and decide is this service something that we could eliminate or is this one that we shouldn’t. But I think that the thing of it is, if you could leave it at the local level,” Supervisor Jill Davisson said.

The board expressed concerns about the programs the county could lose with the current mental health redesign. Davisson said that the county is looking at more than a half-million dollars in cuts with the redesign.

The county had been hoping to receive some of the possible $20 million transition funds. However, Supervisor John Staszewski reported that he recently received an e-mail stating that only three counties would receive funds.

Wolfe, D-Clinton, told the board that when the funding mechanism was created, the state made the compromise that any counties with any outstanding state bills that are in dispute would have them forgiven. She believes some of the transition funds will be used for this purpose. She did note that Clinton County pays its state bills.

“Again, because you’re doing what you should be doing, you’re going to lose out,” Wolfe said.

Davisson was concerned with the lack of clarity in the redesign. She pointed out that many counties are upset with the idea that funds would be pooled within regions. She felt that Scott County might not have accepted Clinton County in a region with the idea that funds would be pooled. Wolfe said the only way to make the redesign work is to pool funds. She said that it would make sense for backfill money to be pooled, while individual property taxes in each county remain separate.

Chairman Brian Schmidt said he feels it is not fair that Clinton County is told to lower its levy and is not provided any extra funds, while a county that has a lower levy leaves it the same and receives money. Davisson added that there is no use in being equal in mental health. She feels funds should be based on needs.

“Figure out who needs the money and send the money to help where the needs are piling up, or being found,” Davisson said.

The board agreed that the problem remains, that counties need to be able to levy for the needed amount. This could still be a possibility.

“I know there is a desire amongst various counties to modify, amend the bill to allow supervisors in individual counties to continue to levy at their current rate if they feel that lowering the levy to the 47.3 per capita number would negatively impact mental health services for their county,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said she is personally in favor of allowing counties to levy at their current rates if necessary.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that there will be changes made. You know it’s not going to stay the way it was,” Olson said. “Exactly what change or what happens, I am not certain.”

Representatives from Clinton County agencies spoke to Wolfe and Olson about the issues arising from the cuts in mental health funds. Area law enforcement noted a rise in arrests related to mental health issues. Assistant Jail Administrator Joe Steffen said that instead of getting the help they need, these individuals are being arrested and jailed.

Steffen used the example of a man who had always received treatment and was managing his mental illness. He said once his mental health services are taken away, he might begin self-medicating through marijuana and alcohol. Eventually this can lead to charges such as trespass, possession, public intoxication, disorderly conduct or interference with official acts.

Steffen told Wolfe and Olson that 20 percent of the jail population is currently on medication for serious mental illness. He added that when including minor mental health issues, that number jumps to 55 or 65 percent.

“To me, it just seems intelligent to keep good mental health in place so they don’t even come into my facility,” Steffen said.

Executive Director of Bridgeview Marcia Christiansen wants to see the county’s ability to levy at its current rate restored. Last year, Bridgeview provided more than 33,000 services to more than 4,000 people. She said almost 90 percent of the services were in Clinton County. After losing its block grant, Christiansen worries that the organization will be unable to continue to provide services for too much longer. That agency is operating at a deficit everyday, she said.

“If Clinton County cannot maintain their levy where it is and Bridgeview gets at least part of their block grant back, that we won’t be around in a few years and Clinton will be a very unsafe place to live,” Christiansen said.

The board agreed that Bridgeview is an important part of the county.

“We’ve got to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves,” Davisson said. “And we have been given that charge as one human being to another and we have to fight. We have to fight for them. Because they can’t fight for themselves. They don’t have the ability.”

Davisson feels the county will see more problems if they cannot help these people in need.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • John Hood A year after 'chaos'

    It happened two hours after John Hood finished his run. Like many, he thought the loud boom was just the sound of cannons going off, something that shook the ground. It was odd, but Hood — a 1989 Clinton High School graduate — tried to make it logical, associating the noise with another good happening at the Boston Marathon.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton looks into roadway safety upgrades Herald Staff Report Clinton looks into roadway safety upgrades

    April 19, 2014

  • Theft trial for man charged in Wolfe sisters' murders

    A western Pennsylvania man accused of having robbed and killed his next-door neighbors, two sisters of Iowa Rep. Mary Wolfe, now also faces trial on charges that he stole another woman's wedding ring a year ago.

    State police in Greensburg allege that 43-year-old Allen Wade of East Liberty, Pa., stole the ring while delivering a refrigerator to a home in April 2013. Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway on Thursday agreed to schedule the case for trial.

    April 18, 2014

  • More felonies added to sex abuse charges CLINTON -- A Clinton man already facing multiple felony charges for allegedly sexually abusing a child is now facing six more felonies for sexual exploitation of a child. Tony D. James, 45, was charged this past weekend with six counts of sexual expl

    April 18, 2014

  • Wildlife service to conduct burnings CLINTON -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct several prescribed burns this spring. The burns will take place on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Carroll and Jo Daviess counties. Sites planned for burning

    April 18, 2014

  • Women jailed on meth charges

    CLINTON -- Two Clinton women are currently being held in the Clinton County jail on $50,000 cash-only bonds for methamphetamine charges. Jessica L. Crabtree, 29, 215 10th Ave. North, and Tera A. Riddle, 27, 611 1/2 S. Seventh St., were arrested last

    April 18, 2014

  • Photo exhibit 2 'Hats Off' Art exhibit covers downtown (With Map & Video)

    CLINTON -- A clown. Clinton High wrestlers. An expecting mother. A young Mozart. These faces and more all peered through downtown storefronts Thursday. They're there again today, too. Looking back at them was photographer Jean Black. They are her way

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Fire alarm evacuation at Eagle Heights

    Students of Eagle Heights Elementary School were evacuated Thursday afternoon after staff smelled something being emitted in the first-grade hallway and main office areas.

    According to a press release from the Clinton Community School District, staff noticed the smell at approximately 1:10 p.m. It was then determined the fire department should be notified, and the fire alarm was pulled. The building was evacuated quickly and the Clinton Fire Department responded immediately.

    April 17, 2014

  • UPDATED: McColley found not guilty of sex abuse

    Relief showed on the faces of Russell McColley and his family Thursday as a verdict of not guilty was read in court.
    "Our prayers were answered, that's all I have to say," Tracy Hook, McColley's sister, said.
    McColley was facing a charge of second-degree sexual abuse. If he had been convicted of the class B felony, he could have faced as much as 25 years in prison.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court denies man's appeal in robbery CLINTON -- The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld a conviction of a man who robbed a Clinton pawn shop in 2012. Darrell L. Thomas recently appealed his first-degree robbery conviction to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The court released its decision Wednes

    April 17, 2014

Facebook
Clinton
Camanche
Fulton
Clinton Herald photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.