County briefs: County approves new voting system

The Washington Board of Commissioners approved purchasing a new voting system for the county March 18.

Washington County’s existing voting system is 15 years old. The equipment is showing signs of wear and tear and replacement parts are not readily available. The new equipment offers a number of features that improve service and efficiency, such as a larger LCD touchscreen display, a thermal printer, digital scanning, USB thumb drives and an auto feed tray for absentee ballot counting.

Washington County has worked with both Hennepin and Dakota counties to request information from vendors and choose an appropriate system. Both Hennepin and Anoka counties have recently purchased election equipment from Election Systems & Software, based on the information gained during the process.

Washington County will purchase new election software and vote counting equipment from Election Systems & Software for $732,900. Ballot counters will be purchased for all precincts within the county as well as a central count machine to process absentee ballots, and software for producing ballots and reporting results.

Funding for the purchase of the election equipment comes from a combination of federal Help America Vote Act grant funds and county property tax funds.

Contracts for disability services renewed

The Washington County Board of Commissioners renewed contracts March 18 with three organizations that provide day training and habilitation for persons with disabilities.

East Suburban Resources (ESR), Opportunity Services, and Phoenix Alternatives assist adults with developmental disabilities to achieve and maintain the highest level of independence, productivity, and integration in the community. The day programming provides services related to employment, self-care, communication skills, socialization, physical mobility, and cognitive development. The county is mandated to protect the health and safety of vulnerable adults, which includes providing supervision and care for adults with developmental disabilities during the day when caregivers are not present.

ESR, Opportunity Services, and Phoenix Alternatives also provide related services. These include supported employment (paid employment in community settings for individuals with disabilities), prevocational services (day programming to prepare disabled individuals for paid or unpaid employment), and transportation to and from the sites.

The contracts are for 2014, 2015, and 2016, will cost $1.2 million each year.

County adopts revised hazardous waste ordinance

The Washington Board of Commissioners adopted a revised ordinance to replace the county’s current Washington County Hazardous Waste Management Ordinance.

The Hazardous Waste Management Program was first established by ordinance in 1983 and adopts Minnesota hazardous waste rules as operating standards. The ordinance requires periodic revisions to incorporate updates or revised state rules. County staff license, inspect, and provide training and outreach to hazardous waste generators and facilities.

The ordinance revision will:

• Add a provision allowing the Department of Public Health and Environment to adopt management policies (called a Special Variance) published by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

• Adjust the minimum requirement for financial assurance at hazardous waste facilities from $1,000 to $10,000.

• Add a provision so that the ordinance will conform to and remain current with state rules as amended.

• Clarify existing requirements and formatting for accuracy and conformance to legal standards.

The county notified licensed hazardous waste generators and cities and towns, posted the draft ordinance on the county website, and published notice of the public hearing in the official county newspaper.

Meridian will provide case management

Meridian Services, Inc., will provide case management and other services for Washington County residents with developmental disabilities, after the County Board approved a contract with the agency March 18.

Washington 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.

Meridian Services, Inc., is one of the agencies that provides contracted case management services for clients. Under this contract, Meridian Services, Inc. will provide case management for individuals with developmental disabilities, and semi-independent living services for individuals with developmental disabilities living in the community. This agency has a history of providing quality services and has previously contracted with Washington County for these services.

The contract is for 2014, 2015, and 2016, at a cost of $15,000 for each year.

Contract for community nursing services

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Community Involvement Programs March 18 to provide mental health nursing services in the county.

A contract with an agency that provided medication management, education, and mental health assessment to clients ended in November 2013. Since then, the county has been working with home care agencies to meet the needs of these clients, who have services paid for by Medical Assistance.

However, there is a small population of clients that cannot access community nursing services, such as medication assistance or administration of injections, for a number of reasons. These are services that are crucial to the success of maintaining clients in the community.

To meet this need and keep clients in the community, Community Involvement Programs will provide these mental health skilled nursing services, such as assisting people with medication management, chronic medical issues, and crisis intervention, and obtaining community resources.

The contract is for 2014, 2015, and 2016, at $27,000 a year.