Board to hear reports on Family Services budget and collections program

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners will hear Family Services budget analysis and collections/fraud reports today.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.

Brown County Fraud Investigator Preston Cowing reported the collections program had a very good year in 2012. The success was mostly attributable to Medical Assistance (MA) estate recoveries, according to the Request For Board Action (RBA).

The Department of Human Services (DHS) wants to eliminate the 25 percent recovery incentive counties have. DHS guidance regarding MA assets recovery in 2012 stopped assets collections by counties, effective April 1, 2012, according to the RBA.

Cowing reported it is not so important necessarily to recover dollars as it is to send the message that money that belongs to the government should go to the government. Fraud is not to be tolerated in Brown County, which is clearly more active in collection and fraud than most Minnesota counties, according to the RBA.

Commissioners will consider a resolution authorizing application for Minnesota Housing and Finance Agency Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance for the 2013-2015 biennium.

Another report indicates an increase in costs dealing with sexual assault cases. Assuming rates stay the same, Brown County’s sexual assault costs are forecast to rise $30,000 a year due to program activity attributable to a Brown County resident, according to the Family Services Consent Agenda.

A correspondence item includes a notice from Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) that Xcel Energy seeks permission to increase electricity rates by $285.5 million, 10.7 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

The MPUC will evaluate the request and make a decision on final rates in September 2013. If final rates are lower than interim rates, customers will be refunded the difference with interest. If final rates are higher than interim rates, customers will not be charged the difference.

Administrative Law Judge Jeanne Cochran scheduled public hearings so customers can present their views on the adequacy and quality of Xcel Energy’s service, rate levels, or related matters. Any Xcel Energy customer or other person may attend or provide comments at the hearings.

A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m., Monday, March 18 at the Mankato Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Mankato. Written comments may be sent to Judge Jeanne Cochrane, Office of Administrative Hearings, P.O. Box 64620, St. Paul, MN 55164-0620. E-mail:

Customers may provide comments to the MPUC at 121 Seventh Place East, Suite 350, St. Paul, MN 55101-2147 or e-mail Phone 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782, Option 1. Citizens with hearing loss or speech disabilities may call through Minnesota Relay at 800-627-3529 or by dialing 711.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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