Clark County Board of Developmental Disabilities plans to make more than $4 million in cuts after voters rejected two consecutive tax levy requests.
Officials will discuss an action plan and a three-year strategic plan — in which $1.8 million in cuts will be made next year — during public forums on Jan. 9. The first public forum will be held at 10 a.m. at the Clark County Developmental Disabilities office, 2527 Kenton St. Another will be held later in the evening at 5:30 p.m. at 110 W. Leffel Lane in the transportation conference and training room.
“It’s an opportunity to brainstorm with the board about the direction the board takes,” said Lisa Dunn, a local attorney and a member of the developmental disabilities board. “It’s a great opportunity for people to have their voices heard.”
One idea among the proposed cuts is to downsize the F.F. Mueller Residential Center, which provides care for individuals with disabilities on campus, said Superintendent Jennifer Rousculp.
The residential center has units that currently provide housing to 39 people. The reductions, if approved, would limit care to about 30 individuals, Rousculp said.
In addition, Rousculp said officials would consider reducing the number of employees at some point and work with area private partners to serve those enrolled in QUEST Adult Services.
Rousculp said QUEST currently serves 190 people and has waiting lists for its services.
She said developmental disabilities would use area organizations to provide employment, volunteer work or other services that individuals seeking day services would need.
“We want to continue to serve people the best we can,” Rousculp said.
But she said the organization projects a $4.3 million shortfall after the levy failures and must reduce its budget by that figure in the next three years.
In November, voters rejected an 8-year, 1.75-mill property tax levy that failed by a slim margin this year, just as it did in 2012. It would have generated about $4 million.
The additional funds were to help the board maintain services to keep up with the disabled population in Clark County, she said.
Prior to November 2012, the board, formerly known at Clark County MRDD, had passed every levy it placed on the ballot since it was created in 1967.
Rousculp said she has recommended that the board not place another issue on the ballot next year.
“The voters have said no twice. We can either start working strategically on cuts or go back to the voters. My recommendation at this time is to focus on our reductions,” Rousculp said. “We don’t want to get to 2015 and have to cut $4.3 million in one year. It would be so challenging for families. It’s already frustrating to have to do it now.”
Dunn said the developmental disabilities board is expected to add two new members, and discussion about placing an issue on the November ballot could come up next year.
She said cannot rule out placing an issue on the ballot in 2014.
Dunn said the board as presently constructed is now focused on maximizing the federal and state funds the agency receives and being “good stewards” of the money entrusted to the board.
“The board has dealt with the disappointment of the levy failures. We’re heeding the voters’ decision. We’re now trying to find way to do our core mission as efficiently as possible while keeping the people we serve in mind,” Dunn said.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun is committed to coverage of local tax issues and will continue to follow the story as the Clark County Board of Developmental Disabilities considers spending cuts.