From the Desk of the President (September, 2008)

The Labor/Management meetings continue.  We completed the review of the actual experience for 2007 Health Partner's usage by Hennepin County with no surprises.  We, as a body, continue to have high utilization of services for preventive care.  In my opinion, that is a good thing as it means that we take care of ourselves and our families.  It also means that potential health problems can be identified at an early stage so that they can be dealt with in a timely and more cost-effective manner as the earlier a health concern is caught, the easier it is to address. The Presidents and Business Representatives met with County Administrator Richard Johnson who gave us an update of the 2008 budget status and the process for presenting his budget to the County Commissioners.   There is currently a county wide hiring freeze.  Any positions vacated need to be reviewed on a case by case basis to determine whether or not it will be filled.  When we asked what positions would most likely be filled, the one that was mentioned was the Hennepin County Library Director's position that is being vacated by Amy Ryan.  His comment was that we would need to fill a position at that level due to all the budget and personnel responsibilities assigned to that person.  He also stated that, even though the majority of budget shortfalls for 2009 are being experienced by HSPHD, he still does not expect that department to bear all of the budget cuts - that they will be spread out amongst other areas.   The levy limit is going to be an even more aspect of the budget this year than usual as he has to balance the mandated levy increases for the library with all of the other county needs.  The State Legislature included a number of exceptions to the levy limits set in the bills passed this spring but there is not a lot of wiggle room.  It is going to be very important for all of us to contact our Commissioners when needed to explain how important it is to maintain an adequate level of services so that the citizens of Hennepin County are not hurt by cuts.  We need to speak up for the people we serve  as they often cannot speak for themselves.

ďA turtle travels only when it sticks its neck out."  - Proverb