Bottoms up

Many of the budget-cutting antics of state government in recent years have shifted costs to Minnesota’s counties, allowing state politicians to cluck about local governments and counties not doing more to cut their budgets.

The Park Rapids Enterprise (registration possibly required) is carrying the story today about the cost of sobering up drunks. The economy being what it is, people are drinking more and requiring more time in detox, the paper says.


The cost of one day in detox, usually at Pine Manors, has risen from $260 per day to $275. There is a sliding fee schedule depending on the patient’s financial status, but most patients are without the means to pay.

And that bothers (Hubbard County social services director Daryl) Bessler. “The state sells the stuff, they allow the license for booze to be sold, they put a tax on it and then they don’t assist in the payment of the costs,” he said.

The state requires detox services to be provided and the counties have to pay for them. The county official says the declining amount of money should be spent elsewhere. “I have to deny day training services to a mentally retarded person who was born that way versus somebody I had to provide services for because the law said I had to,” Bessler told the paper.

  • Bob

    Bob, I think this item belongs in the “Life is Cheap” file.

    I also think the “Life is Cheap” file is where state laws that allow 14-year-olds to drive belong.

  • bigalmn

    Might be cheaper to drop them at the local hospital mental ward vs. the detox center. Or maybe a jail cell that can be washed down with a hose after they puck.

    I think that is what Sheriff Taylor did in Mayberry.

  • http://bluetintedglasses.wordpress.com MR

    One of the more interesting things about living in Flagstaff, AZ is that the Salvation Army didn’t have a dry-out facility there. The nearest one was in Phoenix. So when they had someone that needed to go to a dry-out, they would take the individual(s) to the Greyhound station, hang a Salvation Army sign around their necks, and put them on a Greyhound to Phoenix where they’d be collected by someone and taken to the dry-out.

  • bigalmn

    To bad I don’t remember how to spell puke.

  • tiredboomer

    Snip from the heading The Longest Day – “At the present rate, it’ll be billions of years before the earth stops rotating — around the time the Minnesota U.S. Senate recount ends …”

    Snip from MR’s post to this blog item – “…they would take the individual(s) to the Greyhound station, hang a Salvation Army sign around their necks…”

    We have the ingredients for solving two issues, the endless recount and Hubbard County’s financial problems. We’ll hang “US Senate” signs around the necks of the Hubbard County intoxicated and put them on a bus headed east.

  • bsimon

    If local media still collectively employed enough journalists to spare a body or two for investigative reporting, the larger story referenced here would make for interesting reporting. That being: who is paying for what? In the Highland Villager (which we receive free despite living across the river), it was recently reported that St Paul property tax rates are continuing to grow at astronomical rates (well into double digits), despite falling property values. The city blames the state’s reductions in local gov’t aid. Meanwhile services are being cut (city hiring freeze) and both the state and city are facing budget crises. So… What I’m looking for from reporters is what is changing so drastically in our funding of government that people still find cause to complain about tax rates, while the gov’t can’t manage to maintain the service levels to which we have become accustomed. Why? Where’s the money going? Is it rising healthcare costs? Pension costs (I hear Duluth is facing trouble in this area)? Waste and fraud? Should we blame the unions (state & city employees)? Or should we blame management (elected officials)?

  • Bob Collins

    In other words, bsimon, what are 80+ communities doing right (they don’t get local aid) that St. Paul and Minneapolis are doing wrong?

    Did you hear the mayors on Midmorning today?

  • bsimon

    sigh. lost post, due to forgetting to fill out personal info that the checkbox never seems to recall.

    Short answer: the problem is larger than local gov’t, though if MSP officials can learn from smaller communities, great. The point was meant to address the state’s budgetary problems as well as local gov’ts’.

    Did not hear MM – can’t stream here & don’t have a radio in the office. One of these days news junkiness will overcome genetic cheapness.

  • brian

    I’m not sure what percentage of the problems pensions are, but one reason pension costs can sneak up on governments is that they don’t have to realize the costs as they go along. If a private company promises $X a month to employees they have to put the cost of that on their books (figured out and spread out with various actuarial and accounting mumbo jumbo). But government pension plans can promise anything they want without anything going on the books until the EE retires.

    bsimon, I do that all the time.

  • dwp4401

    The last paragraph states:

    “The state requires detox services to be provided and the counties have to pay for them. The county official says the declining amount of money should be spent elsewhere. “I have to deny day training services to a mentally retarded person who was born that way versus somebody I had to provide services for because the law said I had to,” Bessler told the paper.”

    I have dealt with these issues and if I were King of the World funding for Detox would be increased and Day Training and Habilitation would be targeted to those who would truly benefit. The result would be a cut for DT&H.