Commissioners get MNsure update, approve cut in Bridge coordinator

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners received a MNsure update from Brown County Income Maintenance Supervisor Teresa Schroeder on Tuesday. The county had more than 600 cases in the MNsure/MinnesotaCare program at the end of March.

“Computer start-ups for new programs generally take about three years to start and another year or two to work out problems,” Schroeder wrote in the MNsure update. “In this case, the program, which is the largest ever, was brought up in a little more than a year. The MNsure enrollment program has worked well for some recipients and not very well for others,” Schroeder said. “We continue to be somewhat optimistic about helping people enroll in MNsure/MinnesotaCare daily. People can get stuck in the system due to address changes and other lifestyle changes.”

Commissioners unanimously approved:

Bridge On Center Coordinator Stephanie Francis’ annual report. The goal of the Local Advisory Council (LAC) is to bring mental health awareness and education to the community, families and individuals by identifying gaps and discrepancies in mental health services offered and advocate for the mental health services, resources and other information needs of county residents.

The LAC board will host its 3rd annual Mental Health Fair from 5-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 13 at the New Ulm Public Library. A National Alliance for Mental Illness speaker will provide an hour-long presentation on QPR (question, persuade, refer) to learn about preventing suicide and helping people in crisis.

Unanimously approved reducing Bridge on Center coordinator hours from 40 to 30 hours a week effective May 1, due to a 15 percent state funding cut. Job benefits would be pro-rated from 40 to 30 hours. The affected employee uses a spouse’s health insurance plan so that impact is minimal, according to Brown County Personnel Director Mike Furth.

“We anticipate we’ll still be able to deliver most services we have in the past. The coordinator will no longer back up the chemical dependency counselor’s duties. The Probation Department has agreed to take on that role,” said Brown County Family Services Director Tom Henderson.

Terminating the existing professional technical services agreement with AECOM of Minneapolis and accepting the new Brown County Landfill professional services contract with GEI Consultants, Inc. of New Brighton. GEI will provide technical expertise for quarterly monitoring test results and communicating with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

The landfill was served by AECOM for the last seven years. The company will no longer service the landfill due to a decision to not fill a position.

Brown County and AECOM mutually agreed to terminate the last contracts still in effect.

Hourly rates are about the same as those with AECOM for 2014, ranging from $65 an hour for technician I and staff word processing to $211 an hour for senior professional engineering specialty practices. Each project will be brought to the board as a separate proposal, as is done now.

The GEI point of contact will be Chad Donnelly, who was the AECOM point of contact and landfill engineer. Donnelly knows the landfill history and has a good working relationship with Brown County .

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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