Crow Wing County: State passes bonus SNAP funds to counties

Crow Wing County will receive a portion of a bonus earned by the state of Minnesota for its performance in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.


Crow Wing County will receive a portion of a bonus earned by the state of Minnesota for its performance in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The Crow Wing County Board authorized receipt of the funds as part of its consent agenda Tuesday. The federal government recognized Minnesota for achieving the "most improved" payment error rate in fiscal year 2015, awarding a $1.83 million bonus. The federal assistance program, known as SNAP, is the largest domestic hunger safety net and provides nutrition assistance to millions of low-income individuals and families.

In a letter to Community Services Director Kara Terry, Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said the state's error rate was 5.98 percent in 2015, down from 6.87 percent in 2014.

"Quality control case reviews measure how accurately we distribute SNAP dollars," Piper wrote. "Your dedication to quality insures that the people we serve receive the benefits they are entitled to."

The state paid out 75 percent of its bonus funding to the counties, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the White Earth Nation and the Red Lake Nation. Each local unit received a base payment of $5,000, and the remainder was distributed based upon caseloads. This formula pegged Crow Wing County's bonus at $15,315. The funds must be used to maintain or improve administration of the SNAP program, DHS reported.


Attached to Piper's letter was a list of all Minnesota counties and the mentioned tribal nations, along with statistics gathered on SNAP case counts. The average caseload size in Crow Wing County in 2015 was 2,507 cases, which accounts for 1.12 percent of the statewide caseload. Crow Wing County is the 15th largest county by population, according to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, but is tied for 12th in percent of statewide caseload with Wright County, which is the 10th largest county by population.

Among area counties, Cass County is the most disproportionate when comparing population to caseloads-although the county has 28,895 residents accounting for .5 percent of the state's population, it accounted for nearly double the percent of statewide caseloads, at .92 percent.

In addition to earning a bonus for its improved payment error rate, Minnesota also moved out of "liability status" by falling below a 6 percent error rate.

"This is good news since it reduces the risk of possible sanctions in future years," Piper wrote. "However, the national payment error rate, which is used to determine whether a state is in liability status, has also declined over the years. To eliminate any potential of fiscal sanction, Minnesota's goal for payment accuracy continues to be a payment error rate below 6 percent."

In other business, the county board:

Authorized an agreement between Crow Wing County and the National Joint Powers Alliance for $80,000 in funding to purchase an unmanned aerial system-a drone, for use by area public safety officials.

Approved installation of a stop sign at the intersection of Pine Beach Road and Wilderness Way, which according to the request for board action was warranted due to property development in the area.

Approved the promotion of Karen Holt to child support supervisor in community services. The board also approved replacement staffing for a child support officer following the promotion.


Accepted the departures of Alissa Virnig, social worker; Diane Anderson, social worker; Ross Becker, probation agent; and Josh Brilla, correctional officer. Replacement staffing was approved for each of the positions except one social worker, which instead was approved to be replaced with a case aide in probation services. The case aide position is Grade 13, compared to Grade 19 for the social worker.

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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