The Franklin County Commissioners voted to place a 3.5 mill levy on the March 4 ballot to fund the Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD).
"The county commissioners have been very supportive," said MRDD Superintendent Jed Morison. "Our services benefit the entire county and we’re confident people will continue to support us."
If passed, the 3.5 mill continuing levy would replace two levies that total 3.97 mills. Though the new levy has a lower millage, it would bring in additional money as the updated effective millage under Ohio law adjusts at lower levels so revenue collected stays roughly the same as property values rise in the county.
The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $47 per year if it is approved.
"We’ve not been on the ballot since 2001," said Morison. "We’ve been successful and we’ve done what we said we’d do. We’ve been consistent and cost efficient with our programs."
MRDD, which was formed in 1967, provides services for more than 14,000 children and adults in Franklin County who have mental disabilities and/or physical handicaps.
Morison said the demand for services is expected to grow by 3.5 percent or more per year. He said improved medical technology has played a role in this increase.
"People are living longer so the need for support is greater," said Morison, who added support is also needed for families where elderly parents need help caring for their adult children who have disabilities.
Other factors for the increase in demand include: doctors’ increased awareness leading to the referral of children with mental retardation or developmental disabilities; increased efforts to find children and adults who would benefit from MRDD; changes in eligibility standards; and population growth in the county.
"Our services are pretty comprehensive," said Morison.
Among the basic services MRDD provides are:
•early childhood classes for children up to age six;
•schools for children ages 6-21 with multiple handicaps;
•sheltered workshops that provide job training and jobs for adults;
•home based training services for children who are medically unable to attend programs;
•supported living and service coordination services for individuals and families; and
•services for senior citizens who have mental retardation or other developmental disabilities.
MRDD also works with other county agencies such as Goodwill, Easter Seals, Children’s Hospital, the Childhood League, and Special Olympics.
"A lot of families and individuals benefit from our services. With the help of sheltered employment and placement services, many adults with mental retardation become less dependent on tax supported services and get jobs in the community and become taxpayers themselves," said Morison.
The MRDD board is made up of five members appointed by the county commissioners, two members appointed by the county probate judge, and three members who are parents or family members of individuals receiving, or eligible, to receive MRDD services.