Olentangy Valley News

Delaware County: Disabilities, senior levies glide to wins

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Services for Delaware County’s senior citizens and disabled residents will be preserved after voters heartily backed two levies on the Primary Election ballot Tuesday, May 7

With all 143 county precincts reporting Tuesday night, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections showed a proposed five-year, 1.2-mill levy to support the Council for Older Adults of Delaware County winning with 9,415 votes (68 percent) to 4,354 votes (32 percent).

Unofficial results also showed an eight-year, 0.59-mill supplemental levy to support the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities winning with 8,660 votes (63 percent) to 5,074 votes (37 percent).

The developmental disabilities levy will supplement a 2.1-mill levy passed in 2011 that currently costs homeowners about $64.30 for each $100,000 in property value.

Its passage means residents will pay an additional $17.15 annually per $100,000 in property value.

“We’re very pleased,” said Bob Morgan, superintendent of the board of developmental disabilities.

“I think the driving factor in the success of this levy was the stories our families have told about the services we provide. That’s what made the difference.”

Board officials have said the extra funding increase is needed to continue services in light of a “financial crisis” brought on by unanticipated state and federal cuts, as well as a lagging economy.

The developmental disabilities board connects disabled and developmentally delayed residents across the county with services such as transportation and physical, occupational, behavioral, speech and vocational therapy.

It also helps fund the purchase of hearing aids, adapted car seats, ramps and other equipment that has been modified to assist people with disabilities.

Failure of the levy would have hurt services for all clients not backed by a Medicaid waiver and would have necessitated the creation of waiting lists for services, according to board leaders.

The Council for Older Adults levy will replace a 0.9-mill levy that expires at the end of the year.

Over five years, it will raise $9 million to help provide area senior citizens with in-home care, including warm-meal deliveries, medical transportation and adult day-care.

It will cost county homeowners about $37 annually per $100,000 in home value – about $9 more per year than the cost of the current levy.

Officials have said the funding increase is necessary to retain current services for the county’s rapidly growing senior population and won’t fund any new programs.

“It means that we’re going to be able to continue services for our current clients, and it also means we’ll be prepared for others that are going to need our help,” said Bob Horrocks, director of the Council for Older Adults.

“So, we couldn’t feel any better than we feel tonight,” Horrocks said.

Delaware County saw an 83-percent increase in its senior population from 2000-10, compared with an average of just 7.7 percent growth in the senior population in other Ohio counties during that time.

The Council for Older Adults currently serves more than 5,000 area seniors, and studies show the council will see an additional 35 percent increase in its clientele over the next five years.

More than 80 percent of the council’s funding comes from levy dollars. The rest comes mostly from grants and donations.

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