Area counties have been concerned with the way their property tax dollars are being spent in the County Social Services Mental Health Region. This 22 county region began it’s first year of operation reportedly overspending by $2 million. The region has been able to cover that debt and return to a balanced budget. Area County Supervisors were upset about county property tax dollars being spent on ineffective hotlines that cost tens of thousands of dollars to the region. Other programs were found to be equally ineffective and at a high cost to the region.
Some area legislators and Governor Reynolds listened to the taxpayers and area officials about their concerns. As a result, Governor Reynolds is proposing the Invest in Iowa Act. The program creates state funding for the already existent adult mental health program, which had been funded by county taxpayers, and funding for the newly proposed children’s mental health program. Winnebago County was concerned that there may have to be a county property tax increase to pay for the children’s program. According to Governor Reynolds, the state is going to take the burden off of the counties.
Winnebago County recently changed affiliations with mental health regions. Beginning in June, the county will no longer be a member of County Social Services. They will become members of Northwest Care Connections based out of northwest Iowa. Currently, the regions pay for patient care.
If the new act is passed, funding for patient care in the county will begin to come from the state. The Governor firmly believes that the act will reduce the tax burden on area property taxpayers because of the reduced dependence on county property taxes.
Does Reynolds believe that area legislators will approve of the measure?
The interview in its entirety can be heard on our Sunday Talk segment this Sunday at 8 am on kiow.com.