Brooklyn Park City Council discusses fate of NW Hennepin Human Services Council programs

After announcing its dissolution in February, the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council is in the process of disbursing its remaining assets to member cities and requesting funding for continued programming.
Brooklyn Park has the largest population among remaining member cities, and as a result, has the majority of board votes and will determine if two programs are funded for another year or will dissolve the council. Brooklyn Center, New Hope, Osseo and Hanover are also member cities.
The services council, which used to be awarded a larger pool of funding from Hennepin County, has been struggling financially in recent years, said Susan Blood, executive director. With funding decreasing, particularly from Hennepin County, the council has decided to dissolve itself, she said.
The council has at times funded service providers, has referred those in need to providers, or has otherwise facilitated work around the issues of poverty, domestic abuse and issues surrounding an aging population and early childhood.
The financial state of the services council once it is dissolved is unclear at this time, but a draft resolution by the council estimates that approximately $224,842 in remaining assets were estimated to be available at the end of March 2017, not including final costs and expenses.
When all final costs are paid, the remaining fund balance will be distributed to member cities, with allocations determined by each city’s population.
Brooklyn Park will be distributed 58.71 percent of remaining funds, while Brooklyn Center will be distributed 23.31 percent, New Hope will be distributed 15.71 percent, Osseo will be distributed 1.82 percent, and Hanover will be distributed .45 percent.
Brooklyn Park’s portion of the council’s remaining funds would be allocated to the city’s general fund.
The service council is requesting $12,000 in funding to continue and transition the work of the Northwest Hennepin Early Childhood Network into next year. The council is also requesting $16,000 the Senior Leadership Committee. If funded for another year, these networks would seek grant funding from sources such as Community Development Block Grants to continue their future operations, Blood said.
The early childhood network is a group that includes state legislators, four school districts and faith-based organizations. It works across sectors to educate people on issues related to early childhood, according to Blood. The Senior Leadership Committee organizes an annual senior forum and works to identify the needs of seniors.
The Brooklyn Park City Council met to discuss the fate of the services council at a May 1 work session.
“Honestly, it comes down to what Brooklyn Park wants to do because we carry 58 percent of the votes,” said City Manager Jay Stroebel, who represents Brooklyn Park on the board.
Brooklyn Park contributed approximately $35,000 per year to the service council in recent years, Stroebel noted.
Funding for either or both of these service council programs would come from the council’s remaining assets after dissolving, thereby reducing the fund balance allocated to member cities.
“Northwest Hennepin Human Services was never the service provider, they were like the hub of the wheel of the service providers,” said City Councilmember Lisa Jacobson.
The senior committee may not be eligible for Community Development Block Grants, which are subject to guidelines per the Department of Housing and Urban Development, so the council should consider funding it, Jacobson said.
“I think that, right now, as we are anticipating having more seniors in our community than youth, is not the time to be getting rid of the [senior] forum,” Jacobson added.
Jacobson said that veterans and their families who they leave behind while deployed are underserved in the community.
Mayor Jeff Lunde agreed, saying that seniors and veterans are lacking in city services.
“I think if there’s a missing piece to our puzzle in the city … if I look at what’s underserved … it’s veterans,” he said.
Lunde said he would like to see the money either added to the city’s general fund or be spent on senior or veterans in some capacity.
Local Veteran’s Affairs Hospitals that serve Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center are overwhelmed with patients, said Councilmember Terry Parks.
Councilmember Mark Mata said he would prefer to see the total remaining funding come back to the city’s general fund.
Service council operations are expected to terminate by the end of June.

Contact Kevin Miller at [email protected]