On August 6th, the county board considers a postponed resolution to close Saint Croix Industries (SCI) and transfer its services to a non county operated private provider. Why?
A drastic 2011 state budget cut reduced these workers hourly reimbursement 30%. In 2011, SCI’s director pointed out that this would threaten SCI. A year later, after the state appointed managed care organization (MCO) became financially unstable, the board took note of the impact of the hourly rate cut from $9.91 to $7.00. The state’s new MCO, agreed to reimburse SCI at the higher $9.91 hourly provider rate for 2013 to allow the county time to find a solution for a $500,000 annual shortfall. When the Administration committee recommended and the board passed the 2013 budget, no reserve was allocated for this future projected shortfall. Instead the board reduced the levy and cut the budget $2 million. This presented a catch 22 situation because the state has put a moratorium on levies. Once decreased, they can’t be easily raised.
There’s serious doubt that current level of worker transportation would be provided and that lower functioning clients would be included if this program is privatized. For forty years, SCI has given our at risk developmentally disabled, a chance to work and to be a part of our community. SCI should be kept. The board should look at reducing SCI’s operational costs, apply surplus county revenues to it, and pass a resolution to put a binding special referendum on the next ballot to let voters decide if they want to keep SCI. A special levy would equate to about $22 for a home worth $300,000. The recent cut to state income taxes would more than offset this special levy. County Board, let the voters decide the future of SCI with a special levy referendum.
Suzanne Van Mele