The Rice County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday as a Committee of the Whole for a work session.  Rice County Social Services Director Mark Shaw had a couple of items to discuss including his department's Detoxification Fee Policy.  Shaw told commissioners the county is mandated by statute to provide detoxification services.

Shaw told commissioners, "Rice County is mandated by statute to provide detoxification services to those individuals that are in an inebriated state, typically that can not care for themselves and are at jeopardy of problems because of their inebriation.  Certainly that requires a great deal of discretion on the part of our law enforcement officers."

The Social Services Department Director went on to say if the individual is picked up in Rice County and is not a resident of the county, Rice County still pays the bill for the services.

Commissioner Jeff Docken asked if wages can be garnished.  Shaw's response, "With a court order we could I think."

Docken added, "Just curious because I'm looking at, in my mind a lot of these cases that, good luck, especially with that guy that's not living in Rice County, how you collect your fee.  I mean it's fine and dandy to have a fee.  Is it collectible ?  I'm sure that they aren't all collectible."

Shaw replied, "You are correct.  This is a significant challenge.  To Collect fees and I would hazard an educated guess that out of the approximately $125,000 budgeted for detoxification services annually we probably collect just under 50 percent of that."

Commissioners asked Sheriff Troy Dunn where those patients go.  Dunn said, "Most are going to Rochester to Zumbro Valley Detox, and then our second option, if we can get in is St. Paul off of Shepherd Road and the third option is New Ulm."

Commissioner Docken concluded, "Detox is an important part of what you are doing down there too and the collecting of the money probably isn't as important as getting people to go through detox and if that leads them to another avenue where recovery is in it then it's probably a pretty good investment even though we don't get our money back."

Shaw noted, "We certainly follow up with those individuals and offer an assessment immediately upon discharge so that they can follow a path to sobriety and recovery.  You are correct, but in the public's best interest certainly we are going to try and recover those expenses that are born by the taxpayer of Rice County."


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