Costs, incidences of chemically dependency treatment increase

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners learned Tuesday that there were more and longer chemically-dependent (CD) in-patient stays in fiscal year 2013 than in 2012.

In addition, more patients in treatment were dually-diagnosed (chemically dependent and mentally ill) with more costly placements, according to an annual Consolidated Chemical Dependency Treatment Fund (CCDTF) Report.

There are also other issues.

“Many clients come in without health care or were on plans and lost them because they didn’t pay premiums or give data to health care workers,” said Brown County Chemical Dependency Assessor Leah Luke.

As mental illnesses increase, costs also go up,

“Society is becoming more and more mentally ill, which costs more and more,” said Brown County Family Services Director Tom Henderson.

Luke is seeing clients who are bi-polar and have other personality disorders.

“I’m not sure if numbers really are higher or they’re being better diagnosed,” Luke said. “It’s a life-long issue. … Most of our clients are younger with little education. Few clients have high school diplomas.”

Last fiscal year, 98 CCDTF placements cost Brown County $73,981 and $294,863 in state funds. This fiscal year, 96 placements cost the County $86,147 and the state $342,298. Total costs are down from $567,538 in fiscal year 2011, according to the report.

Brown County CD diagnosis data showed 52.1 percent (74) alcohol-dependent patients in fiscal year 2013, compared to a state average is 45.1 percent. Brown County cannabis dependent patients comprised 22.5 percent (32) of 142 CD patients compared to the state average of 13.9 percent.

Statewide opiate/synthetic dependent patients were higher than Brown County, but Probation Director Les Schultz said heroin user numbers rose dramatically the past three months.

“It’s dramatically up in Mankato and moving here,” Schultz said.

Commissioners approved:

Updates to the Collections/Property Maintenance Assistant job description and sending it for pointing by a 3-2 vote with commissioners Jim Berg and Andy Lochner voting no.

Before posting the job externally, the description was looked at for potential changes and was found to need updates to ensure accuracy. After the Auditor-Treasurer’s office submitted changes, the Review Committee (Administrator, HR Director and Assistant Auditor-Treasurer) reviewed updates in accordance with county guidelines for salary administration, according to a Request for Board Action (RBA) presented by Human Resource Director Mike Furth.

A revised plan and quote Tuesday for a L&S Construction, Sanborn, to install stream barbs for the Iberia Canoe Landing erosion control project.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved the project. It will fix and protect the area that is eroding along the Cottonwood River, just upstream from a township bridge.

Working with Stark Township and the Redwood-Cottonwood Rivers Control Area (RCRCA), a plan was created to install four stream barbs to reduce bank erosion and direct water toward the center of the river channel.

A sand bar in the middle of the stream will be removed and placed behind stream barbs. Work would start when water levels allow.

In addition to a $13,000 quote by L&S Construction, its proposal estimates 250 tons of rip rap costing 15 cents a ton for a total proposal cost of $13,037.50. Brown County will pay 25 percent of the cost.

A $636,500 Heartland Express operating budget for 2014 plus $70,000 capital expense for a replacement bus. The budget is a 3 percent increase from 2013, due mostly to adjusted staff wages from rotational review pointing this year, plus employee benefits, insurance and operational adjustments.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will continue to cover 85 percent of operating expenses and 80 percent of approved capital costs. The remaining 15 percent local share comes from fare box and system revenues. The 20 percent local share of capital bus purchase funds will come from earmarked transit reserves.

Aug. 21, Planning Commission recommendations including a Conditional Use Permit application by David Berle, Section 10, Stark Township, to increase an existing feedlot from 735 animal units (2,000 head) to 1,200 AU (4,000 head) in a hog finishing operation in the A-1 Agricultural Zoning District. The site contains an 82x 200×8-foot barn and calls for a proposed barn of the same size.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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