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Woodbury County in last days to get mental health services agreement

Sioux City Journal - 6/17/2018

SIOUX CITY -- Woodbury County is down to crunch time in getting an extension of the sharing agreement to provide mental health services in cooperation with Plymouth and Sioux counties.

The next meeting of the Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services governance board is on June 26; the next fiscal year with a new operating budget starts July 1. The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors said there is a need for speed to make sure details are set for the year ahead.

A draft of the Memorandum of Understanding that supplements the sharing agreement for all three counties was discussed as a non-agenda item at the end of the Tuesday county board meeting. Supervisor Jeremy Taylor said the proposed MOU agreement had been vetted by the Woodbury County Attorney's Office and sent to the county attorneys in Sioux and Plymouth counties.

Woodbury County has sought to leave Sioux Rivers, over disagreements on management style, but the state Department of Human Resources has said that can't happen until the fiscal year beginning July 2019. With the move by Woodbury County to Rolling Hills Community Service Region postponed, county officials are now trying to settle the working relationship with Sioux and Plymouth county officials, and Taylor said the MOU is crucial to that.

All three county boards of supervisors need to approve the memorandum to make it effective. The Sioux Rivers region dates to 2014, when Iowa moved from a county-based to regional system for providing mental health services to disabled, low-income and other Iowans.

In spite of a long series of discussions and meeting machinations since 2017, the Woodbury County Supervisors have never officially left Sioux Rivers. The memorandum draft briefly recaps the history of Woodbury County trying to leave the agency and says that won't happen until 2019.

The document says by executing the MOU, "Woodbury County consents to re-enter the (sharing) agreement for the Sioux Rivers Region filed with the Iowa Secretary of State." Further, it says the counties agree the terms of the MOU and sharing agreement "shall govern the operations of the Sioux Rivers Region for fiscal year July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019."

Taylor said he hoped to see a response from the other county attorneys by June 22.

"This is a good faith effort," Taylor said.

During the meeting, a member of the public asked what would happen to clients receiving mental health services if no new MOU is set by July 1. Board chairman Rocky De Witt answered, "Nothing would change."

Taylor stopped being one of the two Woodbury County supervisors on the Sioux Rivers board a few months ago. Supervisors Keith Radig and Matthew Ung are now the Woodbury County representatives on the Sioux Rivers board.

De Witt told the Journal that Taylor remains heavily involved in the process of shepherding the new MOU because of his experience with the mental health regions.

"I asked him to continue with the plan to remove Woodbury County from Sioux Rivers, as he had the knowledge and the will to carry it through," De Witt said.

Radig said the key is to get through the year functionally in Sioux Rivers. He looks forward to July 2019, "with open and honest government" present in the governance of Rolling Hills.

Rolling Hills Community Service Region includes seven counties to the east, with Buena Vista, Sac, Calhoun, Carroll, Cherokee, Crawford and Ida. A majority of the seven county boards of supervisors individually voted by May to add Woodbury County in 2019.


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