Johnson County officials offer service management tool to Douglas County Commission

Douglas County commissioners learned Tuesday of a service management tool that Johnson County’s government developed and is willing to share at a “nominal” cost.

Chris Schneweis, senior management analyst for Johnson County, told commissioners the My Resource Connection software was developed after a 1999 audit found gaps in services provided by the county, as well as duplications and inefficiencies in service deliveries, which had one Johnson County resident receiving services from 27 different agencies and 17 case managers.

The program allows case managers and probation officers to search for what services a client is receiving, in addition to locating agencies in the county’s United Way database that can provide the client with food, shelter and transportation, Schneweis said. Past and future appointment dates are accessible, which allows meetings to more easily be consolidated, he said — for instance, a case manager could join in a scheduled meeting between the client and a probation officer.

To ensure information is being handled appropriately, the program is subject to a twice-monthly audit, and its users receive training on what information should not be shared, Schneweis said.

Johnson County Manager Hannes Zacharias was excited about providing the program to Douglas County, Schneweis said, stating the motivation was in sharing its service delivery advantages and not financial gain. Douglas County’s cost would be “nominal,” he said. The process would “scrub” the Johnson County version of the program and then enter data appropriate to Douglas County, he said.

After the presentation, Douglas County Commission Chairman Mike Gaughan said he was interested in pursuing the offer and working out contractual details.

Commissioners also received an overview of the Johnson County Community Corrections Department from its director, Betsy Gillespie. The department, with a $30 million annual budget, is responsible for 12 juvenile and adult programs.

Among those she highlighted was the 50-bed therapeutic community, which provides six-month substance abuse treatment in a controlled environment. Those in the program are district court felony offenders who have the “last chance” of entering treatment or doing lengthy prison time, Gillespie said. The recidivism rate of those released from the program is only 8.6 percent, she said.

In other business, commissioners approved a text amendment to county zoning regulations, establishing definitions for large wind energy-generating towers of more than 50 kilowatts and procedures on how conditional use permits for their installation would be considered. Sandra Day, planner with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department, said there were no current applications for a large wind generator tower, and that there has not been any recent interest in such a project.