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Crow Wing County Board: Approves of cooperative mental health agreement

The Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement intended to protect counties participating in a regional adult mental health initiative and limit their risks or liabilities.

The Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative began about 1998. The group has been working well under the by-laws in place, according to county officials, but has no formalized structure.

"The bylaws remain the same," County Community Services Director Kara Terry said at the board's Tuesday, Nov. 13, meeting, which included discussion of approving the agreement.

In August, the board authorized entering into an agreement between community services and Sourcewell for the initiative's Regional Comprehensive Re-Entry Program. Sourcewell has awarded Region V+ Innovation funds for this year and next in the amount of $287,000.

"This puts a more formalized structure on our adult mental health initiative, and when I say that, I don't mean that it changes the structure currently of the way we have the mental health initiative set up. That remains the same," Terry said of the agreement.

For example, County Adult Services Supervisor Tami Lueck requested in May the board support Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative's development of a regional comprehensive re-entry program by connecting mentally ill inmates to community-based treatment and services.

Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties comprise the counties that were asked to sign off on the Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative Interlocal Cooperative Agreement approved Tuesday by the county board.

"The key thing is that by doing so, it mitigates risks to the counties by creating a single entity for liability purposes ... and so really it's just an extra layer of protection ... and for you guys to get insurance for what you're doing here," Attorney Marcus Miller told the board.

Miller is a former assistant Stearns County attorney who helped draft the interlocal cooperative agreement. He is also the general counsel for Staples-based Sourcewell, which offers regionally focused programs for its government and education members.

Tuesday's interlocal cooperative agreement was vetted through the Region V+ county attorney offices and with input from those offices. The agreement was also reviewed by the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust.

"We did do some checking ... as well as contacting another AMHI that's done a similar agreement like this, and that's what they've done," Lueck said. "They have gotten insurance through MCIT for their Adult Mental Health Initiative, and we've budgeted for that for next year."

The powers of the board, established under the agreement, include powers to enter contracts, set an annual budget, adopt bylaws consistent with the terms of the agreement, appoint a fiscal agent, obtain insurance, apply for grants and accept money from lawful sources, and more.

"What it does for you guys is that it mitigates the risk of liability. Right now, with just the bylaws, if things went really poorly, liability could be stacked upon each county," Miller said of the agreement.

The board does not have the power to levy taxes, borrow money or issue or execute instruments of debt, make loans, hire employees or otherwise establish employment relationships; or purchase, own, lease, accept or otherwise establish an interest in real property.

"The assistance for Sourcewell is it makes it clear that the contracts we've been running through the Adult Mental Health Initiative can legally be done that way. It makes it clear for us that we can continue to contract with the Adult Mental Health Initiative," Miller said of the agreement.

County officials estimate without the county having to deal with issues related to mental illness and chemical dependency, child out-of-home placement would be reduced by 80 percent, the number of jail inmates reduced by 80 percent and the number of those on probation reduced by 70 percent.

Commissioner Doug Houge made the motion at Tuesday's board meeting to approve the Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative Interlocal Cooperative Agreement. Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom second the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

In other business news, the county board:

Approved the hiring of Rex Smith, sheriff's office correctional officer; and Maggie Dumond, sheriff's office records supervisor.

Approved the promotion of Nichollette Sibbert, land services environmental specialist in training.

Accepted the departures of Sonya Koenig and Amber Miles, community services senior technical/administrative specialists; Kelsey Heyblom, community services financial worker; Aaron Larson, sheriff's office senior technical/administrative specialist; Kelly Patton and Lynn Nelson, community services social workers; Dennis Lasher, sheriff's office chief deputy; and Jeanie Kuebelbeck, land services customer service specialist.

Authorized entering into an amendment to contracts between the county and the cities of Breezy Point, Crosslake and Emily, effective Jan. 1, in which the county agrees to provide prosecution services for misdemeanors at a cost that varies per municipality.

Authorized the advertisement for sealed bids to be received until 10 a.m. Dec. 5 for all legal printing and publishing for the county in accordance with Minnesota statutes.

Scheduled a public hearing for 9:15 a.m. Dec. 26, 2018 to consider adopting the 2019 county fee schedules.

Approved the final payments for the total contract amount of $993,485.95 to Anderson Brothers Construction Co. of Brainerd for work related to the county highway improvement plant; the total contract amount of $2,117,721.67 to the company for bituminous surfacing on county roads 111, 118, 124 and 168, and First Assessment District roads; the total contract amount of $53,277.25 to Astech Corp. for crack sealing maintenance on county highways 5 and 20, county roads 117 and 131, and First Assessment District roads; the total contract of $265,263.73 to Anderson Brothers for patching, and the total contract of $265,263.73 to Astech Corp. for bituminous seal coat work.

Approved the right-of-way acquisition in order to construct and improve county highways 13 and 77 at State Highway 371 in Nisswa in 2019.

Approved the advertising of sealed bids for a variety of projects listed as 2019 improvements in the county's highway improvement plan adopted by the board on April 10.

Approved the reclassification of tax-forfeited property near Garden Lake and authorized the property's direct sale to an adjoining landowner for $500.

Approved the establishment of Sanctuary Way as a town road in the First Assessment District.