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Non-profits get $2-million in surplus mental health funding from Linn County

The recovery  center at the Area Substance Abuse Council office in Cedar Rapids.  ASAC received...
The recovery center at the Area Substance Abuse Council office in Cedar Rapids. ASAC received $518,000 in funding from Linn County on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, for future projects. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 4, 2018 at 5:24 PM CDT
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Linn County Supervisors made at least a dozen non-profit agencies happy on Wednesday by funding $2-million worth of mental health projects.

Over a number of years, Linn County had collected $11-million in surplus funding for regional mental health services. Last year, state lawmakers ordered all counties to reduce surplus amounts in mental health accounts to 20 percent of yearly spending.

The vast majority of the surplus will go back to Linn County taxpayers through lower mental health tax levies in future years.

But slightly more than $2.1-million will go to fund projects at agencies like the Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC). Linn County Supervisors made the funding decisions on Wednesday.

The county awarded ASAC approximately $518,000 to pay for extended stays for patients, on-site nursing services and a 1-year manager of recovery services position.

Barb Gay, ASAC executive director, says it’s a significant award.

“Getting $500,000 is going to be tremendously helpful in providing current services to our patients but also expanding services to our patient,” Gay said.

Gay said before the switch to regional mental health services, about five years ago, ASAC routinely received county mental health funding for a program that targeted those both with substance abuse and mental health issues.

Ben Rogers, Linn County Supervisor, said the extra funding was a one-time event and one that drew a lot of attention from agencies that provide mental health services.

“We’ll never see another surplus like this where we have the flexibility of asking Linn County mental health and disability providers to show us the need and we can fund those,” Rogers said.

While ASAC got the largest share of the surplus dollars, supervisors did turn down a request to help the agency level the old motel used for housing patients and begin the process of working on a replacement building.

Gay says ASAC will look elsewhere for help with that project.