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Published: Tuesday, 8/16/2005

Fulton County MRDD rallies staff for levy issue

WAUSEON - The Fulton County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities sent clients home early and canceled classes yesterday afternoon to hold a staff meeting to warn employees of layoffs if its levy request fails on Nov. 8. The board asked for their support.

If voters deny the 2-mill, continuing levy request, the board will cut about $775,000 from its 2006 budget, Superintendent Brenda Oyer said. That's roughly 20 percent of the $3.6 million the board expects to spend this year.

Taking no action after such a failure will leave the board with about $90,000 at the end of 2006, which is enough to cover a two-week payroll.

The board wants a minimum of $865,000 in its treasury at year's end, board finance and operations director Jim Hacker told about 40 employees who attended the 1 1/4-hour meeting on paid work time. The board employs about 52 people. He gave a similar presentation at the board's evening meeting.

If the levy passes, the board expects to have enough money next year to help about 12 of the 33 people now on a waiting list for assistance with daily living tasks - and to guarantee such assistance for life.

In 2007, the board expects to take another seven people off of that waiting list.

On the waiting list are disabled adults and children who want help with tasks ranging from feeding themselves to budgeting their money.

Most adults on the list want to move out of their family home and into an apartment where they would need help with such tasks. But the list also includes a few people who want such help in their family home.

The board now provides workers to help about 40 disabled adults - who live alone, with roommates, or in a few cases with their family - with various household tasks.

Such services typically cost the board $10,000 to $70,000 per person, per year, depending on the severity of the person's disability. One of the more costly services provided is round-the-clock supervision. Of those costs, the federal government pays about 60 percent, and county taxpayers pay about 40 percent.

The Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities contributes to that local share for a few disabled adults.

Those costs don't include rent, utilities, or food, which disabled adults typically cover with a combination of Social Security Disability or similar government payments and their work earnings.

If the new 2-mill levy passes, it will bring in about $1.5 million a year. That's $400,000 more than the board receives from county taxpayers now, Mr. Hacker said.

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