10/7/2018 7:00:00 AM JCBDD seeks larger tax levy to support growing program Proposed levy would cost home valued at $100,000 an additional $4.13 per month
Jackson County Board of Developmental Disabilities (JCBDD) Superintendent Nick Elliott spoke to the Jackson Rotary Club on Oct. 2 about the JCBDD tax levy, which will be on the countywide ballot in Novemberís general election. Pictured (from the left) are: JCBDD Business Manager Myra Mathews, JCBDD SSA Supervisor Lana Matthews, Superintendent Elliott, and Jackson Rotary Club President Taylor Rose. (Telegram Photo By Pete Wilson)
The Jackson County Board of Developmental Disabilities (JCBDD) has released a fact sheet which addresses the types of services the board would be able to maintain in the county with the levy dollars being requested in the upcoming general election.
JCBDD Superintendent Nick Elliott and Business Manager Myra Mathews visited the Jackson County Commissioners this past spring in order to discuss the possibility of placing a bit of an uncommon issue on ballots this November.
Elliott explained during the Tuesday morning, April 24 meeting that a continuing levy for JCBDD was last updated in 2005, when it was replaced to bring it back up to the value of a one-mill levy. Since that time, the levy has again been devalued. This levy was first put into place by Jackson County voters in the 1990s and the last millage increase was in 1992.
According to Jackson County Auditor Clyde Holdren, who was also present for the April 24 meeting, the levy had an effective rate of .668 mills as of that date.
"If we continue going with what we have, we will run out of money in 2021," Elliott told the commissioners.
JCBDD's plan is to put before the county's voters a single-ballot issue that would replace the current levy, bringing it back up to a one-mill value, as well as request an additional one mill. If passed, this would bring the total to three mills for JCBDD, as the group also has a second continuing one-mill levy.
According to the fact sheet presented to The Telegram, money raised by the proposed levy would maintain "the current services required by a growing number of people in Jackson County."
These services include:
Preschool classes (three classrooms).
School-age classes (eight classrooms).
Family Resource Program.
Therapy services (speech and physical).
Adaptive equipment purchases.
Special Olympics (basketball, bowling, track and field, and golf).
Service coordination (case management services).
Job training and community employment support.
Adult day services.
Cost of living subsidies (rent and utility assistance).
Residential support for adults (care providers, safe housing and transportation).
The fact sheet further states there has been an increased demand for services in the county in recent years. As an example, it is stated that in fiscal year 2011, Jackson County served approximately 22 individuals on waivers and supportive living services. Today, enrollment has reportedly grown to over 100 individuals on waivers and supportive living services, which represents an increase of over 350 percent. A waiver is defined in the fact sheet as a funding source to help developmentally disabled individuals live their lives in homes, work and the community.
It is also stated that Jackson County is charged with serving all eligible individuals throughout the entire county from birth to death.
With regard to cost, the proposed levy measure is listed as costing a home valued at $100,000 an additional $4.13 a month.
Jackson Rotary Club Presentation
Elliott, who is a member of the Jackson Rotary Club, addressed the need for levy package when he served as the club's guest speaker at its weekly luncheon meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 2. He was accompanied by JCBDD Business Manager Myra Mathews and JCDD SSA Supervisor Lana Matthews.
As for the financial need for the levy, Elliott pointed to the tremendous growth in the program within the last seven years and the number of qualified individuals who must be served. Indications are that the program and its needs will continue to increase in the coming years. Specifically, he reported that the number of those on waivers or supported living have jumped from 22 in 2011 to 100 today, which represents a 350 percent increase.
"We haven't asked for new money for the past 26 years," Elliott noted. "Now, we want to replace the one mill and also add one additional mill."
Elliott stated that the JCBDD has operated frugally in an attempt to make the available money stretch and that the program is at "rock bottom" as far as staffing levels are concerned.
While the program is not in a serious financial condition at this time, Elliott indicates that things are moving in that direction without a course correction.
"We are still using carryover money and we can get by for another year or two before we get in trouble," Elliott told the Rotarians.
The current one-mill levy which is on the ballot will not expire this year, which means the issue could be taken back to the voters before that money would be lost.
(Ed. Note: Editor Pete Wilson contributed to this story.)