Sarah Reynolds, Redwood County Child Advocacy Center coordinator, spoke candidly about the future of the county’s children’s advocacy center (CAC) with the Redwood County board July 7 indicating that the future funding for the program is up in the air.

While the program is primarily funded by the federal Office of Justice Programs (OJP) the reality is how much of that funding will be coming is unknown at this time.

The Redwood County CAC is the only county-based program in the state, and it is assumed the county is the primary source of funding for it.

Reynolds added being a county-based program also means the local CAC does not qualify for certain grants. 

The current budget for the CAC is $205,000, and that budget is set to increase to $228,768 for 2021 and $239,921 for 2022.

According to Reynolds, grant applications have been submitted to help cover some of the budget, but those funds are not guaranteed nor are they a long-term option for the program.

That is why Reynolds has proposed that the county consider the option of allowing the CAC to become a non-profit entity. Reynolds told the board that status would allow the CAC to apply for added grant funds, but it could also conduct fundraisers to help meet its budget.

One of the challenges that the local CAC is facing is the fact that other similar programs are being established in Minnesota, which is limiting the OJP funds the county receives and it is competing for other grant funds.

Currently, the Redwood County CAC offers services to other counties and agencies at no cost, and in 2019 it provided that assistance 33 times.

Should it begin charging for that service, it would have raised approximately $16,500 in 2019.

The board set up a committee that will further research the options and come with a recommendation to the board.

Reynolds informed the commissioners she can receive assistance in setting up as a non-profit organization, adding it is critical that a decision be made as soon as is possible to develop a solution before the CAC’s current funding allocation runs out.

Reynolds said it is clear that the program needs to find a long-term solution to ensure that this important program can continue well into the future.

In other action during its July 7 meeting, the county board:

• Heard a report from Lisa Guggisberg of the Redwood County license center regarding its current status. According to Guggisberg, the Redwood County center is open to walk-ins, adding other license centers in the area require the public to make appointments.

Due to that fact, the number of people being served in Redwood County has increased dramatically. In June 2019, the license center served 333 people with driver’s license needs. That number increased to 777 in June 2020.

“A lot of people don’t want to wait,” said Guggisberg, adding that is bringing people to the county from across the state.

• Established a fee schedule for overweight truck permits. According to Alan Forsberg, interim county engineer, state law provides local governments the option to establish fees for overweight truck permits.

The approved fee schedule includes the following:

• A fee of $150 for a single use permit

• A fee of $300 for a six axle, 90,000 pound annual permit

• A fee of $500 for a seven axle, 97,000 pound annual permit.

The permits are generally allowed on all of the county’s 10-ton roads, but the county does reserve the right to make exceptions based on road conditions.

The permit would not be in effect during the spring thawing period, which is determined by the county in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

Lon Walling, county commissioner, expressed concerns about policing the new permit process and the impression that the county was singling out one group, and as a result voted against the highway department’s request.

The request was approved 4-1.