CASS COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICE BOARD MEETING/BUDGET HEARING
CASS COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICE BOARD MEETING/BUDGET HEARING
August 10, 2007
There being a quorum present, Chairman Bennett called the meeting to order at 2:10 p.m.
Present: Robyn Sorum, Vern Bennett, Ken Pawluk, Darrell Vanyo, Michelle Macintosh,
Scott Wagner, Laurie Dahley
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Wagner moved and Mr. Vanyo seconded to approve the minutes of the July 2, 2007 Board
meeting as presented. Motion carried unanimously.
NDDHS Response to TPR’d children letter
Ms. Hogan reported there has not yet been a formal response to the letter sent to the ND
Department of Human Services (NDDHS) regarding the Board’s action to discontinue providing
case management services for children whose parental rights have been terminated. The letter
stated October 1st as the time frame of when case management of those children by Cass County
staff would no longer be provided. She did say that in a follow-up phone call, ND Dept. of
Human Services (NDDHS) said they were considering their options. Ms. Hogan said a list of
those children in the state’s custody was sent to NDDHS this week.
Continuing Grant Applications
Ms. Hogan presented a summary of continuing contracts, purchase of service agreements, and
memorandum of agreements:
- Foster Care Recruitment/Retention – 100% funded with an increase from $15,000 to
- Family Preservation/Support Services (Parent Aide/Family Focused, Prime Time) –
Previously funded through a contract, is now funded through reimbursement systems.
Total available funds increased 5%.
- Refugee Service Grant – Provides 100% funding for interpreter costs, social service
staffing working with refugees during their first five years.
- Adult Protection Program – Agreement implemented to cover the costs of providing
specialized services throughout the region. Funding available is the same as previous
Mr. Vanyo moved and Ms. Dahley seconded to approve the continuation of
existing contracts and purchase of service agreements as presented. Motion
passed on a roll call vote with all members voting yes.
Presentation of 2008 Budget
The Board received the Social Services preliminary 2008 budget along with supporting
documents. Ms. Hogan, Mr. Skjonsby, Ms. Swenson, Mr. Ammerman, and Ms. DeLana Duffy-
Aziz presented the budgets of their perspective divisions.
The 2008 projected expenditures are $10,677,284, a 4.89% increase. Ms. Hogan stated that the
2008 preliminary budget does not include funds in the event the county opts out of the state merit
system. If that should take place, estimates of the cost would be approximately $200,000
beginning 1/1/08 which could be funded through the human service fund reserves. It does reflect
remaining at the same mill levy level of 18 and the use of reserves. The budget is based on what
projected revenues the agency was told would be received. Ms. Hogan did explain that additional
revenues are always being sought. The Board reviewed a 14 year history summary of
expenditures and revenues which reflected an average of 5-6% growth each year. She noted the
trend of increased county dollars being used every year.
Mr. Skjonsby outlined the revenues and expenditures of the projected budget. It reflects an
increase of revenues of approximately $290,000 as a result of reimbursement rate increases in
child abuse/neglect investigations, contracts (Family Focused, Parent Aide, Foster Care
Recruitment). Also, factors in the increase of revenues in Home and Community Based
reimbursements and administrative reimbursements. Projected revenue sources are: county
(76%), federal/state (23%) and other areas (1%). Projected expenditures break down into
Economic Assistance (29%), State Programs (12%), Administration (12%), Regional Child
Support Enforcement (1%), Family Services (35%) and Adult Services (11%).
The budgeted expenditures for 2008 will be around $10,677,284, a 4.89% increase over 2007. A
major factor in the 2008 budget will be the conversion of child support enforcement becoming a
state administered agency. As a result there is a decrease of $883,914 in expenditures. He
reported a significant cost increase in foster care programs of approximately $346,300. There has
also been a $8,000 increase in county burials through the General Assistance Program. The
county’s Information Technology Department has recommended replacing 55 computers at a
cost of $55,300. Mr. Skjonsby discussed an additional support staff request – a one-year
temporary position specifically for scanning old files into the electronic filing system to alleviate
the storage space problem. He also noted a significant cost increase in travel costs, of which 90%
are client related.
Ms. Swenson presented the Economic Assistance data. There are 50 FTE’s in this unit. The
caseload overall grows about 5% per year. She reported that the several computer systems that
do not communicate with each other remain to be a challenge in that a significant amount of time
is spent inputting identical data into different systems. Mr.Vanyo questioned whether any
advancements are being made to resolve this issue. Ms. Hogan said a legislative interim budget
committee will be discussing this and the counties will have an opportunity to provide testimony.
Ms. Swenson also reported that another challenge in the near future is that ten eligibility staff
will be eligible to retire in the next five years. Training new workers is time-intensive and takes
18-24 months for a new worker to take on a full caseload. Ms. Swenson has requested three new
positions – a Unit Supervisor to reduce the number of supervisees to a more manageable level,
an eligibility worker in the working-poor programs and a second eligibility worker in the
Ms. Swenson also reported an increase in annual cost of the electronic debit cards for food
stamps (EBT cards) has increased from $55,558 to $66,000. Ms. Swenson reported on the
estimated economic impact of financial assistance programs in 2006. The total from the
programs of Medical Assistance/SCHIIPS, Food Stamps, Foster Care payments, Child Care
Assistance and Energy Assistance was conservatively $55,289,804.
Ms. Duffy-Aziz reported the Adult Service Unit has three programs – Adult Protection, County
funded Homemaker program and the Home and Community Based Case Management. There are
16 FTE’s in the unit. As a result of caseload increases, she requested a new social worker
position for 2008. The last new position added in Adult Services was in 1992. The average
number of cases per social worker is 83, which is approximately 20 more cases per worker than
ten years ago.
Mr. Ammerman presented information on the Family Services Unit. He reported with the
addition of the Crisis Case Management Team which began in July of 2006, there were a total of
28 cases referred in 5 ½ months of 2006 which prevented the out-of-home placement of 54
children. In the Child Protection Unit, the average monthly case assignments have risen from 8.8
cases per worker a month in 2003 to 10.7 cases per month in 2006. In addition state and federal
expectations with regard to documentation has increased the workload demands on staff. For the
case management workers (Family Based Program), there was an increase in referrals, but a
decrease in the number of children leaving placement. The expectations of meeting standards
with regard to contact with the children and families has increased the demands for the workers.
Because of the added workload, Mr. Ammerman said that the unit is not in compliance with
federal child welfare requirements. There will be a federal review in April of 2008. In order to
meet state and federal requirements, Mr. Ammerman asked for three new positions – two Family
Based unit social workers and one social worker in the Child Protection Unit. This request
assumes that children in the custody of NDDHS will not be managed by the county.
Ms. Hogan reported that the sponsorship funding line item has been increased from $130,000 to
$150,000 in the 2008 budget request. There has been $226,100 in applications received for 2008.
She also reported that foster care related program costs increased $346,000. This figure is based
on NDDHS guidelines, which is a result of increased costs, loss of child support collections and
poor estimates regarding cost savings from new Psychiatric Treatment Rehabilitation Facility
(PTRF) funding options.
Ms. Hogan also reported on potential county options to reduce the budget with the non-mandated
programs and services such as sponsorship funding, General Assistance Program,
Homemaker/Home Health Aide Programs, Adult Protective Services and Child Protective
Services (NDDHS custody). She also added that a potential cut in the number of replacement
The Board reviewed a chart of historic staffing patterns, along with a summary of new position
Social Worker I (Family Based Unit)
Social Worker II (HCSB – Adult Services)
Eligibility Worker Supervisor (Economic Assistance)
Temporary Office Assistance (Family Based Support staff)
Social Worker III (Child Protection Services)
Eligibility Worker I (Working Poor, Economic Assistance)
Eligibility Worker I (Aged and Disabled – Economic Assistance)
Social Worker I (Family Based)
Ms. Hogan stated that if all new positions were to be approved, the possibility of renting off-site
office space would be pursued. There is $12,500 included in the proposed budget for this
purpose. Ms. Dahley inquired as to who would move and Ms. Hogan responded that it would
likely be some child protection investigators to the same building as the Red River Children’s
Mr. Wagner expressed concern regarding using reserve funds and questioned the sustainability
of those funds. Mr.Vanyo discussed a number of line items with regard to current spending
trends of not using what was budgeted and projecting an increase in spending for 2008. Mr.
Skjonsby clarified those specific line item inquiries.
Mr. Wagner recommended approving the first three positions of the eight requested. Ms. Sorum
questioned the method of prioritization of the new positions with regard to the temporary support
staff and suggested using an employment agency so that additional positions requested could be
considered. Ms. Hogan said that using an employment agency does not guarantee the same
person being available to do this and that hiring a temporary person for one year would be more
feasible. Mr. Wagner acknowledged this would alleviate the need for added storage space for
files. This position would be a one-time appointment and would not be requested in next year’s
budget. Ms. Hogan added that the list of potential new positions is prioritized according to need.
In further discussion, Ms. Hogan said that if all new position requests were not approved, the
need for off-site office space would not be necessary. She added that with the addition of a few
of the requests, that it would be necessary to convert meeting rooms into offices and doubling up
in offices would be necessary. With the conversion of meeting rooms into offices, remodeling
unused space such as the area near the elevators and portions of lobbies could be converted to
meeting and storage space.
Mr. Wagner moved and Mr. Vanyo seconded to reduce the request for new
positions keeping the top four prioritized positions and cutting the last four and
forwarding that recommendation to the Cass County Commission. On a roll
call vote, motion passed with Mr. Wagner, Mr. Vanyo, Mr. Bennett, Ms. Dahley,
Ms. Sorum and Mr. Pawluk voting yes and Ms. Macintosh voting no.
With the reduction in new position requests, the $12,500 budgeted for off-site office space rental
would also be cut from the budget.
In response to Mr. Vanyo’s concern that the staff development line item seemed too high, Ms.
Hogan offered to re-calculate those projections.
Mr. Wagner moved and Ms. Sorum seconded to forward the the 2008 Cass County
Social Services proposed budget, minus the cuts previously discussed, to the Cass
County Commission for consideration. Motion carried unanimously.
Upon discussion of further cuts that will be made by the Cass County Commission, the Board
agreed that Ms. Hogan and Mr. Skjonsby work on a potential list of reductions and bring those
back to the Commission before the preliminary budget is completed.
Mr. Pawluk moved and Ms. Sorum seconded to receive and file the monthly Operating Report.
Motion passed unanimously.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned on a motion by Mr. Pawluk and
seconded by Ms. Macintosh.
Vern Bennett, Chairman Mary Denis, Recorder
Cass County Social Services