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Supervisors discuss mental health

The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors discussed the future of mental health in the area during its regular meeting Monday morning. 

MUSCATINE — As the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors meeting was winding down Monday, chair Nathan Mather said he was planning to attend a regional health meeting that would deal with cutting the budget and services.

Mather, also the vice chair of the Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Region, told the supervisors the meeting would cut $1.5 million from the region’s budget. The region coordinates mental health care and disability services throughout Muscatine, Scott, Jackson, Clinton and Cedar counties.

“It has been presented to us that unless we cut $1 million or $1.5 million out of the budget now by this time next year we won’t have cash flow,” Mather said.

About a year ago the board had voted to give out about $1.3 million in one-time grants, he said. The region had been required by law to cut its budget and that is how it was done. He said about $1 million of that has already been spent. He said the law has since changed so that the region can maintain a surplus of revenue.

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Mather said the region may have to cut services that have just started. He also said the last thing anyone wants to do is begin to help someone and then have to stop the service.

“It’s going to be an unpleasant year,” he commented. “We can sit here and blame the legislature and certainly the legislature has tied our hands in terms of not giving us the authority to levy in the way that is necessary to meet our financial requirements.”

He said the region is allowed to levy $33 per person and the cost of the region is about $42 per person.

Mather said the region will have some “serious challenges” and he hopes the legislature can take action to help.

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