The Marion County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a new contract between the County's Mental Health Department and the Heart of Iowa Regional Transportation Agency (HIRTA), but not before raising many questions about how consumers are transported around the county.
“We will be paying $6 a ride,” Marion County Central Point Coordinator Betty Moll told the board. In years past, the Christian Opportunity Center provided transportation through HIRTA for mental health services. COC is no longer doing that, though Marion County has a contract with COC to provide other services to residents in need. Moll is currently negotiating a new contract with COC as well, and while a portion of the fee paid by the County to COC included transportation, Moll indicated that the COC does not want to reduce the contract amount to reflect this change.
“I think both of these contracts should come to us at the same time,” Supervisor Craig Agan said. The supervisors considered tabling this issue to do that, but HIRTA began to provide Mental Health with services beginning Nov. 1. Moll said HIRTA could choose to discontinue transporting those in need if no contract is officially in place.
“Betty's got to figure out a way,” Supervisor Jim Kingery said. Kingery indicated that the agreement with HIRTA includes the County paying the agency $3,000 a month. Marion County has a clause that can release it from the contract if notice is given within 60 days.
The disagreement between the County and COC could lead to the County choosing to no longer utilize the COC.
These issues are part of more problems that could befall the County in the near future. Per the direction of the Legislature, counties were required to form consortiums to provide mental health services. Marion joined three other counties for this, and the consortium agreement goes into effect next year.