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Published July 11, 2011, 06:46 PM

Shutdown Affecting Polk County Public Health Services

The political gridlock over a $5 billion state budget deficit has idled 22,000 state employees, closed 66 parks, halted 100 road projects and inconvenienced Minnesota's taxpayers.

No new talks are scheduled as Minnesota's government shutdown enters its second week.

The political gridlock over a $5 billion state budget deficit has idled 22,000 state employees, closed 66 parks, halted 100 road projects and inconvenienced Minnesota's taxpayers.

It's a worry on the minds of people working in Polk County as the shutdown continues.

"Funding, funding issues, state funds, will they be delayed, will they be cut permanently and if they are, then we do have to make some decisions, especially if this drags on a long time," Polk County commissioner Bill Montague said.

Polk County commissioners have a lot of unanswered questions, with the possibility of some hard decisions in the future.

"It affects the most vulnerable population and that's unfortunate. Anytime your dealing with Public Health or Social Services, that's a very vulnerable population," Montague said.

Public Health and Social Services are places that could face cuts first, getting more than half of their funding from the state.

"Staff are worried and concerned. Everybody is worried about their job security and I think that sense of worry has increased over the past couple years," Sheri Altepeter with Polk County Public Health said.

And that will continue as the county waits to find out what kind of cuts they may have to make.

"The county can only backfill for so long and that'll cut into our reserve and into our budget for sure. The longer the shutdown lasts, the more vulnerable we are, so we do have to make those decisions," Montague said.

Commissioners are meeting on Wednesday to discuss the shutdown and it's affects on the community, as places like Public Health might lose more than 60 percent of the funding.

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