Counties can sometimes do more together, or do things more efficiently, than going it alone.

Crow Wing County Community Services requested from the county board its authorization to enter into an interlocal cooperative agreement with Sourcewell and Cass, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties for Sourcewell to host a regional licensing specialist for adult foster care.

"This is something that we have done with the child care licensing ... so this would be very similar to the child care licensing that we have going on with Sourcewell regionally," County Adult Services Supervisor Tami Lueck said at the Tuesday, Feb. 12, board meeting.

Sourcewell is a self-supporting government organization that partners with education, government and nonprofits to boost student and community success.

Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota's nine service cooperatives, the Staples-based organization offers training and shared services to its central Minnesota members and cooperative purchasing solutions throughout North America.

"Are we seeing an increase, also, in the need for foster care for adults?" Commissioner Bill Brekken asked Lueck.

"Yes," Lueck responded. "We continue to have needs for beds in Crow Wing County and across the state ... people who are transitioning and need this level of care."

The regional licensing specialist will be provided and supervised by Sourcewell, which will assist counties in the performance of the administrative functions and activities pertaining to licensing under Minnesota statutes and assist in processing background studies for adult foster care.

"They're going out and doing the actual licensing and re-licensing and meeting with the providers in the homes, so they're doing all of those aspects, doing all the documents that we have to submit to the state during renewals and new licenses as well," Lueck said.

Sourcewell will also provide and supervise sufficient regional licensing specialists to ensure compliance with annual licensing review requirements according to the interlocal cooperative agreement.

"I've never been a fan of any of these joint powers things, and we're paying 39 percent again, which is if they have one employee, that's one thing, but if they decide they need 10, that's much different," Commissioner Rosemary Franzen said. "I just don't like the way it's phrased-that they'll have 'sufficient'-that gives us really no idea of how many they might end up with."

Lueck compared the interlocal cooperative agreement for a regional licensing specialist for adult foster care to the child care licensing arrangement the county already has with Sourcewell.

Community Services was recognized in November with a Local Government Innovation Award from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota for its innovative work and collaboration on family child care licensing.

The Region V+ Family Child Care Licensing Collaboration created an innovative solution for family child care licensing by combining the licensing roles of seven counties into three regional licensors, according to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The collaboration addressed a workforce shortage, created consistency in the application of regulations across-and eliminated the duplication of efforts within-counties "at a crucial time when the availability of family child care is hitting a crisis point," according to a news release.

"We can get out of the agreement anytime that we wish to," County Administrator Tim Houle said of the interlocal cooperative agreement for a regional licensing specialist for adult foster care. "What we're finding is that the regional collaboration on things like this that have some very distinct standards that it is easier for us to do them collaboratively with other counties than for each county to do it on their own."

Commissioner Doug Houge made the motion to authorize county community services to enter into the agreement with Sourcewell and the other counties, and Commissioner Steve Barrows seconded Houge's motion before it was passed by the board.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the hiring of Marcie Heldt, community services program specialist; Sonja Bjorklund, human resource intern; Amanda Schneeberger, land services customer service specialist; Jason Dreiling, sheriff's office correctional officer; and Pamala Kaye-Williams, sheriff's office senior technical/administrative specialist.

Accepted the departure of Mark Nelson, community services social worker.

Supported the new premises gambling application for the Northern Lakes Youth Hockey Association at The Woods, Unorganized Territory.

Approved the new tobacco license application of Buy Sell Trade, Crosby.

Accepted a donation from the Brainerd Family YMCA of two treadmills for the new workout room at the sheriff's office.

Approved the annual equitable sharing agreement and certification report for 2018 with the federal government for participation in the federal equitable sharing program for a share of federal forfeitures related to criminal cases in which the sheriff's office participated.

Authorized the land services director to instruct lakeshore evaluation classes March 19 and March 20 in Eau Claire, Wis., and Sept. 17 and Sept. 18 in Greenlake, Wis., with all expenses to be paid by the sponsoring organizations.

Approved the final payment to Knife River Corp. in the amount of $80,864.66 for aggregate shouldering.

Supported the grant application made to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the federal recreational trail grant program to purchase snow trail grooming equipment for the Baxter Snowmobile Club Trail System.

Authorized entering into a contract between the county and DLL Excavating Inc. in the amount of $329,915.79 for gravel maintenance on county roads 105 and 141; Bonnie Road, Kennedy Road, Alpine Road, Birchem Circle, Whitetail Ridge and Whitetail Road in the First Assessment District; and Spruce Grove Road, Lower Dean Lake Road, Burgstaler Road and Caroll Drive in the Second Assessment District.

Authorized entering into a contract between the county and Envirotech Services Inc. in the amount of $246,001.14 for dust control maintenance on county and First Assessment District gravel roads.

Appointed to the Northeast Minnesota Regional Advisory Committee for Interoperable Public Safety Communications as the delegate from the county Scott Heide of the sheriff's office and Emergency Management Director John Bowen as the alternate.

Appointed as the District 2 representative on the Crow Wing County Housing and Redevelopment Authority Michael Morford for a term expires at the end of December 2023.