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Published: Friday, 8/13/2004

Hancock County delays decision on retardation board levy request

FINDLAY - Hancock County commissioners put off until Tuesday a decision on asking county taxpayers to lend more support to the Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

The board had asked commissioners to place a three-year, 2.8-mill operating levy on the Nov. 2 ballot, but several individuals told commissioners yesterday that the agency ought to postpone the levy request or reduce the amount it is seeking.

The MRDD board oversees Blanchard Valley Center, a school for mentally retarded children, and Blanchard Valley Industries, a sheltered workshop for disabled adults. Blanchard Valley Superintendent Bryan Miller has said the agency needs the additional millage to offset substantial funding losses and changes in reimbursement rules for services it provides.

Robert Lotz, Findlay City Schools superintendent, and Larry Busdeker, superintendent of the Hancock County Educational Service Center, were among those who suggested the financial crisis might not be as severe as it appears.

Commissioners and the MRDD board also received a letter from the board of directors of the Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce asking that the MRDD board wait until February to ask for new taxes. The chamber said a number of school tax requests are on the ballot, and it appeared the MRDD request was based on unsubstantiated budget projections.

The levy would generate an additional $4.2 million a year for Blanchard Valley.

Commission Chairman Steve Oman said an additional 2.8 mills would be a tough sell when just last year Hancock County voters agreed to replace the existing 2.5-mill levy for Blanchard Valley Center.

After an hour and a half of discussion, Mr. Oman told Mr. Miller if commissioners had to vote on placing a 2.8-mill levy on the ballot, he would vote no. Commissioner Virginia Clymer moved to table the request until 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, and Commissioner David Spahr seconded it.

Mr. Miller said he would meet with his board and others to try to determine whether they could reduce the millage.

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