Woodbury County still looking for funds to keep mental health se - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Woodbury County still looking for funds to keep mental health services going

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Woodbury County mental health officials are still working to find money to help save the Friendship House and the mental health court. Woodbury County mental health officials are still working to find money to help save the Friendship House and the mental health court.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Regionalization of mental health services has caused quite a stir across the state, especially in Woodbury County.

July might seem far off, but Woodbury County social services director Patty Erickson-Puttmann is anxiously awaiting it.

"They have to know how this is directly affecting these individuals and their families," said Erickson-Puttmann.

As part of Governor Terry Branstad's plan to regionalize mental health care across the state, items deemed "non-essential" by the state could go.

"It's upsetting because there are so many unknowns and we're still dealing with people at home, who have needs and that have to be met," said Erickson-Puttmann.

The state recently passed an $11.6 million transitional funding bill. But Woodbury County didn't apply because they couldn't.

"As long as we had money to fund our core services, we were not allowed to apply for any money to cover our core-plus services, which includes our Friendship House and mental health court," said Erickson-Puttmann.

Erickson-Puttmann says the county will receive about $3.5 million from property taxes this year, but they're still short by nearly $2 million. So, it's up to the lawmakers to find more money.

"Our challenge in the legislature is making sure that our intent is received by the governor and he follows through on some of the legislative intent that we've provided," said Rep. Chris Hall, (D) Sioux City.

"I would have liked to have seen us, especially with the short fall that Woodbury County's looking at, taking a little bit more time to really get in there in depth and see what Woodbury County's doing and some of the larger counties that may be unique to them and aren't falling within those core service areas," said Sen. Bill Anderson, (R) Sioux City.

Anderson says an interim committee has been working since last session to find solutions. Erickson-Puttmann says she's seen seven different proposals, but all have holes in them.

"I haven't seen anything yet that would be beneficial for Woodbury County, unfortunately," said Erickson-Puttmann.

Anderson says one solution is to revisit the legislature and amend it.

"You pass something; there may be some unintended consequences. You go back and you fix that," said Anderson. "Maybe there's an ability to apply for a waiver, but if there's a way to add something to your core services," said Anderson.

Until a solution is found, the hours for Erickson-Puttmann will be long.

In Northwest Iowa, Sioux County was among the 32 counties to apply for part of those $11.6 million in transitional funding.

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