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St. Croix County approves St. Croix Industries privatization

St. Croix County will begin the process of converting St. Croix Industries (SCI) to a private nonprofit organization following action by the board of supervisors Tuesday morning.

The SCI issue has been before the board for months since Health and Human Services moved for the recommendation May 6. The issue was tabled at the June board meeting following a marathon discussion session from both the public and supervisors.

The board approved the resolution by a 13-3 margin Tuesday. Travis Schachtner, Roger Larson and Brian Hurtgen voted against the measure.

The transition appeared to be all but a done deal as a vote approached, however the inevitable amendments reared their heads.

Through a two-hour discussion period that included presentations by representatives of Southwest Family Care Alliance, (renamed ContinuUs), the organization charged with finding a suitable nonprofit to take over the operations of SCI, no less than five amendments to amendments or amendments to the original resolution were offered.

Supervisor Andy Brinkman started the procession with an amendment to substitute language to include the addition of three parent representatives to the process.

“My intent is that the people that this is going to affect the most have a seat at the table,” said Brinkman.

His amendment was met with an amendment for further language clarification. Another amendment to the amendment along the same lines was proposed and so on until the revamped original resolution came to the floor for a vote.

In a last ditch effort to stall the measure, Schachtner moved to refer the issue to committee just before noon, but the motioned died for lack of a second.

SCI is a county-funded program that provides rehabilitation programs to persons who are developmentally disabled, mentally ill, or have traumatic brain injury to assist them to achieve the highest personal, social and vocational functioning and inclusion in the community.

SCI faces a $92,000 shortfall in the current budget and a $1.6 million shortfall is projected in the future, which prompted the move for transition to a private provider in partnership with ContinuUs.

Without the transition, Administrator Pat Thompson said budgets in other departments would have to be cut to sustain SCI including large departments such as law enforcement, highway and health and human services.