Department budget issues raise questionsThe St. Croix County Health and Human Services Board spent much of its Monday meeting trying to get their collective arms around budget issues facing the department.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
The St. Croix County Health and Human Services Board spent much of its Monday meeting trying to get their collective arms around budget issues facing the department.
In her financial report to the HHS Board, Fiscal Administrator Deb Suchla said it’s been discovered that St. Croix Industries will be “more than $300,000 in the red” for 2012. The financial challenge was only recently uncovered after a review of the department’s books, she said.
Luckily, St. Croix Industries (which serves clients with disabilities with job training and employment) has about a $500,000 reserve fund on hand to cover the shortfall, Suchla said.
She told the HHS Board that more than $300,000 from income from 2011 was carried over to this fiscal year, creating the accounting problem. The department’s real financial challenge, however, is the result of declining reimbursement payments provided by the state for the care and board of clients with disabilities.
St. Croix Industries has been working with Community Health Partners, a managed care organization that has gone bankrupt and will no longer operate after Jan. 1, 2013. As CHP’s financial picture weakened, reimbursements to care providers dropped significantly, Suchla explained.
“They basically said ‘take it or leave it,’” she said.
Now the county is in negotiations with a new managed care organization, Southwest Family Care Alliance, that will serve this region beginning in 2013 and Suchla said there is hope that rates might improve.
If rates don’t improve, she said operational adjustments will need to be made in the St. Croix Industries program to keep it afloat.
HHS Board members also asked about the current financial status of the St. Croix County Health Center nursing home.
County Finance Director Tabitha Hansen said she expects that the nursing home will run a deficit of about $460,000 this fiscal year, on top of levy dollars already committed to the operation of the facility.
She said employee concessions and operational changes have improved the nursing home’s financial picture in recent months.
“Do we need to do more? Yes,” she answered.
County Administrator Pat Thompson said, without further wage and benefit concessions from employees, the nursing home budget will be out of whack again in 2013.
“We are trying,” he said of the effort to close the gap between revenues and expenses at the nursing home.
For the complete story, see this week's New Richmond News.