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Administration

Posted on: December 29, 2021

Proposed reorganization would improve county services, efficiencies

Commissioners

A proposal to combine Rice County’s Social Services and Community Corrections departments would allow for greater collaboration and efficiencies, and would better serve residents requiring services and save money over time.

The plan, which includes three possible options, was presented Tuesday to the Board of Commissioners by County Administrator Sara Folsted, Social Services Director Mark Shaw and Community Corrections Director Rick Gieseke, and came about after longtime director Shaw announced his January retirement and following months of discussion and research.

“When a significant leadership change occurs it is a good time to evaluate what organizational structure will best serve our needs now and into the future,” Folsted told the board.

Both Shaw and Gieseke addressed the commissioners, noting that most of their clients are eligible to receive services from both departments, and that the proposed change in the county’s organizational structure will put an added focus on mental health.

Shaw added that communities across the nation want changes in the way people with mental and chemical health issues are served, and that the proposed changes would allow necessary improvements in the delivery of services.

“The proposed departmental restructuring and addition of management-level staff positions the department to improve the current delivery of high-quality and cost-effective services while building for the county’s future needs,” Shaw wrote in a Tuesday memo to the board.

He and Folsted said changes to the organization would help the county retain staff by providing additional opportunities for advancement.

Each of the three options presented recommends replacing the two department head positions with a single deputy administrator-community services. That individual would report directly to the administrator.

The first option, which Folsted described as a “baby step,” includes the fewest changes and is the least costly, estimated at an additional $16,700 annually.

Commissioners, however, seemed to favor the second and third options, which lay out more significant internal changes and provide greater opportunities to use data to drive decision making.

The second option includes social services and community corrections managers, and adds an operations and family supports manager. That individual would focus on child support and financial assistance to families. If selected, Folsted estimates it would cost an additional $151,500 a year, maximum.

A third option would bring about even more change, splitting the social services manager role into two: adult services and child/family services managers. The operations/family supports and community corrections managers would be identical to those in the second option. Folsted estimates a maximum additional cost of $260,200 annually.

While commissioners aren’t expected to make a decision on the plan until next month, they supported the vision.

Commissioner Galen Malecha liked that it would help Rice County retain employees. 

“I want to see (our employees) stay here versus going to another county for those promotions,” he said.

It’s estimated that turnover costs an organization up to 33% of an employee’s salary in time, money and resources needed to fill vacancies.

Commissioner Dave Miller noted that improved services will benefit all residents.

“This addresses the changing needs of the clients we serve,” he said, “and we have to keep up.”

 

Contact:

Sara Folsted, county administrator

[email protected]

507-332-6121

 

Suzy Rook, communications specialist

[email protected]

507-384-6509

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