June 27, 2014

Sex offender program gets temporary reprieve

6-27-2014 Nebraska:

Lancaster County commissioners demonstrated their commitment Thursday to preserving a program that helps keep sex offenders from re-offending. The County Board voted to spend as much as $40,000 to support the program for another three months.

Funds for the STOP program have come from the county, Region V Systems and the state in recent years. When Lutheran Family Services took over the Community Mental Health Center’s core services this year, the STOP program wasn’t included in its contract with the county.

Region V Systems, which pays for behavioral health services in 16 Southeast Nebraska counties with state, local and federal funds, says it has no money for the program.

And Lancaster County commissioners say they shouldn’t be paying for the program because they already pay $928,000 a year to Region V Systems for local services, far more per county resident than other counties in the region.

So local officials are scrambling to find money to continue the program.

“This will give us an opportunity to get future funding nailed down,” said Gwen Thorpe, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer.

On Thursday, the County Board discussed taking the $40,000 for the program from funds it had planned to spend on administrative costs for Region V Systems. Several commissioners suggested redirecting even more of the funds to the STOP program.

Dennis Meyer, county budget and fiscal officer, said the county spends $400,000 more each year on administrative costs for Region V than what it should be required to spend based on its population compared to other counties in the region.

“I say we go as deep in that fund as we need to go,” said County Board Chairman Larry Hudkins.

The $40,000 approved by the board Thursday will cover the cost of operating the STOP program from July through September.

Commissioner Brent Smoyer said it’s the county’s responsibility to ensure the program continues to serve sex offenders who might otherwise re-offend.

“It will be funded,” he said. “It will be dealt with.” ..Source.. by KEVIN ABOUREZK

No comments: