June 7, 2013

The Iowa Department of Human Services has denied Carroll County's request for an exemption from a developing state-mandated regional system of mental-health services, effectively jeopardizing local robust reserves.

Carroll is now likely in the position of being forced to join a multi-county network.

"It's politically driven, let's face it," said Supervisors Chairman Mark Beardmore.

Beardmore lobbied Gov. Terry Branstad personally and aggressively pursued the exemption through a variety of channels.

Polk County is the only one to get exemption, partially, Beardmore says, because of its size.

As of the end of March, Carroll County had $2.9 million in reserves for mental-health services. The county expects to spend $1.3 million on mental-health services for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Carroll County manages mental-health and intellectual disabilities services for more than 200 people, said Dawn Mentzer, central point of coordination administrator for Carroll County.

Carroll County has maintained the reserves for such services, and supervisors don't want to see that money, built over years, used to lift any economically troubled counties in a region. They are also concerned about quality of service. The Board of Supervisors recently voted to file a request for an exemption from mental-health regionalization with the Department of Human Services - which informed county officials of the denial in a letter.

Supervisors are expected to discuss the DHS decision and options during a regular meeting at 9 a.m. Monday at the Carroll County Courthouse.

There is a nine-county, mental-heatlh-services region to the southwest, as well as a four-county region to the west and north with Crawford, Buena Vista, Sac and Calhoun and one to the east and south with Greene, Guthrie, Audubon, Dallas and Warren.

Beardmore said the most likely option would be to look at joining counties to Carroll's north.