Winnebago County Opts to Pay Back Debt to Mental Health Region

The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors have been holding back funds for the area mental health region known as County Social Services. Part of the reason says the board is because they have been looking into forming their own region or joining another region. Three other counties have considered the idea of forming their own region along with Winnebago County. The boards have not been happy with the way that County Social Services have been spending the region’s money. Several failed programs have cost hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars. No overseeing state government office has taken action on these alleged missteps in taxpayer dollar spending.

The legislature has now taken steps to trim certain aspects in county budgeting and increase dollars going into County Social Services. The county must maintain what is called a Fund 10. This is a line item in county budgets that allocates money to the County Social Services and other mental health regions across the state. Every county must take the population estimate from 2017 in their county and multiply it times $35.18. This amount is then set aside from collected county property taxes and placed into the Fund 10. From that, County Social Services takes all but three months of operating expenses for the local county mental health office.

According to Lori Evans of County Social Services, the mental health region will replace the money that is spent in operating expenses for a month in the mental health office at the county level. The County Auditor will bill County Social Services for the amount spent and the region will replenish the account. This keeps the county from going in the red while operating their local office for the entire fiscal year.

Prior to Tuesday when the board opted to release the funding, the county had $463,753.33 in its Fund 10 account. The county actually owed over $416,000 which it has now been paid out. This leaves the county with a little over $46,000 to operate with, in its local mental health office.

The four counties cannot leave the County Social Services region due to a contractual 28E Agreement which will hold them through the next fiscal year. If they were to leave, they must forfeit the remaining balance in their Fund 10 account to County Social Services.

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