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Commission increases social services budget

By Staff | Sep 6, 2013

The Pierce County Commission increased its preliminary budget for 2014 after hearing from county social service employees for the need for more workers.

The commission met with Social Service Director Mary Hermanson, and social workers Nichole Livedalen and Melinda Bischoff Voeller at its Sept. 3 meeting.

Hermanson requested two full-time positions, an eligibility worker and a social worker, as well as three in-home specialists.

“Our caseloads are continuing to rise to the point I don’t know what to do,” Hermanson told the commission.

Although Hermanson had mentioned the possible need for a new eligibility worker during budget planning, she said the need has increased in other positions as well.

“I’m not saying I need to hire somebody immediately, but there’s no way I’ll go through another year without hiring a new eligibility worker,” she said.

Part of the cost of the in-home specialists will be paid by the state.

Due to the increase in the budget after the preliminary budget was determined, the county will now need to mail a notice to all taxpayers.

The county’s social services agency will likely need a new office space and the commission ran a few options past Hermanson for a potential relocation spot.

The commissioners also spoke with Launee Hamnes of Bottineau County and by teleconference with the McHenry County Commissioners about the future of the Community Service Officer position, which has been vacated for around two months after the termination of David Denich.

In the past, the funding for the position has been split between the three counties and cities of Towner, Velva, Rugby and Bottineau.

The Pierce County Commissioners felt the position may not necessitate a full-time position and said the full-time position would be run at a budget deficit.

The McHenry County Commission vowed to raise its share of the position to $5,000 and said the cost saved in longer jail sentences would make up the difference.

The group agreed that the position could be valuable if operated correctly. There was some question about the fees which are brought in to the program. The representatives all felt that the income for the number of people using the program should add up to more than it had in past years and the group ordered an audit of those funds.

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