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Winneshiek County supervisors say the current system of funding for mental health and developmental disabilities programs makes no sense

Posted: Tue, Jul 27, 2010 3:41 PM

Out of the 50 states in the United States, only two of them have counties pay for mental health services through local property taxes—and Iowa is one of those two states.

 "Why should property taxes be the funding source for mental health programs?" asks Winneshiek County Board Chairman Dean Darling.  The other supervisors agree with Darling.  They say it's time for the State of Iowa to fund such programs.

Supervisor John Logsdon complains that under the current system the State of Iowa sets the rules but asks the counties to fund the programs.  "The goalposts move every month," he says, adding "There's no rhyme or reason to it."  Supervisor Bill Ibanez complains that the current system leaves the counties at the mercy of the State of Iowa, since the counties don't have the ability to set the rules for the programs.

Recently Winneshiek county supervisors met with Luther College Assistant Professor of Social Work Craig Mosher to discuss the issue.  Mosher told the supervisors they should continue to try to influence what is happening at the state level—lobbying through the Iowa State Association of Counties and through their state legislators.

Mosher told the supervisors the Winneshiek CPC is a big help getting mental health services organized locally and that the problem with mental health programs lies in Des Moines, not in Decorah.  "We have to do away with having this burden borne by the counties," he concluded.