Winnebago, Hancock, Kossuth, and Worth Counties have long maintained that the mental health region they belong to, County Social Services, is not adequately meeting their needs. Some officials have questioned the spending practices of the upper management within the County Social Services region. Programs that were initiated and authorized by the CEO Bob Lincoln were deemed by some within the four county area as excessive and irresponsible spending that has now put the region $2 million in debt. Lincoln has maintained that the next budget cycle will have enough money to pay for the current debt.
The four area counties have made efforts to split from the 22 county region feeling their voice was not heard and the money they have paid into the program did not serve their residents. In Winnebago County’s case, nearly $300,000 is paid annually into the CSS budget. They were hoping to create their own region and keep local tax dollars at home. To do so requires a number of difficult steps put forward by the state legislature.
As a result, the four counties met with the Northwest Iowa Care Connections Mental Health Region which includes Palo Alto County on Tuesday. The hope was to possibly join this region and according to Winnebago County Supervisor Bill Jensvold, that may now happen.
In order for the counties to make the change, they will have to go through a few steps.
The process will take more steps as the counties within the Northwest Region must also approve the move.