County board briefs: County board reduces environmental charge

The Washington County Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing on the county’s environmental charge Feb. 25, regarding a proposal to reduce it from 37.5 percent to 35 percent.
One resident spoke at the hearing.
After the hearing, the board approved the change, which required a change to the county’s Solid Waste Management Ordinance. The county environmental charge is collected on garbage collection for the solid waste management services provided by the county or others under contract to Washington County.
It is expected that the change will save taxpayers $450,000 each year.

County Board approves investment advisor agreement with Patterson & Associates
Patterson & Associates will work with Washington County on its investment portfolio, after the County Board approved a contract with the firm Feb. 25.
The contract is for $30,000 for 2014.
For the past several years, the county has been exploring the potential of using investment advisor services as a business continuity strategy and also for increasing technical support for investments.
Patterson & Associates will provide investment advisor services for 12 months with the possibility of renewing the contract for a maximum term of five years. The one-year initial contract term will allow the county to evaluate the role of investment advisor in its investment management.

Local Mental Health Advisory Council delivers annual report to County Board
The Washington County Local Mental Health Advisory Council delivered its report to the County Board Feb. 25.
The council’s purpose is to bring the community perspective and make recommendations regarding the local mental health system.
Dan Parnell, representing the council, presented the report.
He noted that persons with mental illness need care to promote healing. National and international studies suggest that 25 percent of the population will experience a mental health difficulty at some point in their lives and almost half of the population has had a direct experience of mental health problems in themselves, their family or their friends. He noted changes that occurred at the state Capitol regarding mental health, which included additional funding for direct services to persons with mental illness and practices that would promote mental health and prevent onset of significant illness. Noteworthy were additional funds to K-12 education for expanding school services relating to children’s mental health.
During the year, the group met with a variety of community service providers to continue to assess the status and needs related to mental health for people. The group also met with insurance providers to gain information on how the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will impact their work, and explored employment services for those with mental illness.

Thomas Allen, Inc., will provide services for residents with developmental disabilities
Thomas Allen, Inc., will provide services to Washington County residents with developmental disabilities, after the County Board approved a contract with the organization Feb. 25.
The county is responsible for providing case management services to more than 1,200 children and adults with developmental disabilities. The case management for these individuals is performed by county social workers or contracted private agencies.
Thomas Allen, Inc., is one of three agencies that provide contracted case management services for Washington County clients. Under the contract, Thomas Allen, Inc., will provide case management for individuals with developmental disabilities, and semi-independent living services for individuals with developmental disabilities living in the community.
The contract is for $155,000 a year for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

County Board approves agreements with agencies that provide housing programs
The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved contracts Feb. 25 with organizations that provide customized housing programs in group residential housing.
The care was previously referred to as assisted living.
Group Residential Housing (GRH) contracts were approved with Betty’s Home, Birchwood Arbors, Colby Lake Home, Coventry Senior Living of Mahtomedi, Elder Haven Homes, Hugo Gracewood, Loving Care Cottage, New Perspectives – Lighthouse of Mahtomedi, Peaceful Living, Presbyterian Homes, Project Caring, Sagewood, Scandia Eldercare, Scenic Hills, Triple Angels, White Pines, Woodbury Senior Care, and Oak Park Senior Living.
The board also approved GRH contracts for those agencies which provide corporate foster care. The service of corporate foster care is designed for persons in need of regular supervision and assistance with daily activities. Each client receives individualized services based on their level of need. These clients receive services funded through Medical Assistance.
Organizations that provide corporate foster care under county contracts are ACR Homes, At Home Living, Capstone Services, Community Living Options, Dungarvin Minnesota, Hope House, Legacy Endeavors, Liberty Homes of Woodbury, Mains’l Services, MDM Rubicon, Meridian Services, Metro Social Services, MRW, Inc., M.R. Welty Homes, Northeast Residence, New Challenges, New Directions, New Journeys, Partnerships for MN Futures, Pathways to Community, People, Inc., REM Minnesota, REM Ramsey, South Metro Human Services, and Working on Life’s Fulfillment.
In addition, Washington County contracts with two board and lodge facilities, Stillwater Residence and Frazier Recovery Home. Stillwater Residence assists adult men and women to stabilize in the community following a medical treatment, chemical health and/or mental health treatment. While living at Stillwater Residence, many residents work with community service providers and seek employment and permanent housing in the community. Frazier Recovery Home provides the aforementioned services and on-site supervision for most of the day. While living at Frazier Recovery Home, many residents are in out-patient treatment and seek employment and permanent housing in the community. The estimated average length of stay is six to 18 months. The facility allows the county to provide safe, stable, and sober housing for individuals who may otherwise be placed in more costly treatment facilities.
The board also approved contracts with family adult foster care homes, a licensed service for individuals age 18 and older who have a disability or functional impairment, are not able to live independently, and prefer to live in a community-based, home-like setting. Adult foster care providers offer food, lodging, protection, supervision, and household services. The home is the primary residence of the license holder and the license holder is the primary caregiver. Adult foster care homes may serve individuals with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury, mental health conditions, physical impairments, and the elderly.
The GRH agreements for family foster care providers were approved with 46 providers.
GRH is a state-funded income supplement program that pays for room and board costs for low-income adults with a disabling condition who have been placed in a licensed or registered setting that holds a formal agreement with a county. The current rate for GRH is $877 per person per month. GRH providers may offer an array of services, but at minimum must include housing, utilities, household furnishings, toiletries, and food.
The service of 24-hour customized living is designed for persons in need of regular supervision and assistance with daily activities such as medication administration, personal care, and housekeeping. These individuals are assessed by county staff and are determined not to need the level of care provided in a skilled nursing home, but they are unable to remain safely in their own homes. Each client receives individualized services based on their level of need.

County Board renews liquor licenses in townships
The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved the renewal of liquor licenses for license holders in the county’s townships Feb. 25.
Licenses were renewed for:
• The Disabled Veteran’s Rest Camp Association, Inc., in May Township, which received a renewal for its on-sale and Sunday liquor license, for a fee of $350.
• The Holiday station store, doing business under the SSG Corporation, in Denmark Township, which received a renewal for its off-sale intoxicating liquor license, for a fee of $500.
• The Withrow Ballroom Catering Services, LLC, in May Township, which received a renewal for an on-sale and Sunday liquor license for a fee of $2,200.
Washington County processes all liquor licenses for townships within the county. The county is required by the state to review the Liquor Liability Insurance Certification provided by the applicant to assure that the insurance requirements are met. In addition, the county Sheriff’s Office, county Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Public Health and Environment need to complete compliance and verification checks. Also, according to state law, the county may only issue a Sunday liquor license if the township has previously authorized the issuance of Sunday licenses by the vote of township residents.
The license fees pay for the administrative costs of the county for administration, and compliance and verification checks.

Washington County will provide election services for Forest Lake schools
Washington County will provide election services for Forest Lake Area Schools District 831 for a May 20 special election after the Washington County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the district Feb. 25.
Washington County was approached by the school district to provide election administration services for the special election on a bond issue. In February, the School District approved a joint powers agreement between the school district and the county to administer the election. The school district will compensate the county for all costs of the election, which are expected to be $11,800. The county will train and recruit election judges, schedule polling places, do preliminary and public testing of the election equipment, and deliver equipment to polling places. This agreement is similar to other agreements the county has with other school districts.

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