The Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities will ask voters to approve a 0.4-mill permanent operating levy Nov. 6.

If approved, the levy would cost county homeowners $14 annually per $100,000 in property valuation when collection starts in 2019.

The board provides services such as early intervention for disabled children, and helping adults with daily needs, learning new skills, finding jobs and connecting with resources and social groups.

Board Superintendent Kristine Hodge said the levy is part of a larger plan to reduce millage in 2020 by letting a 0.56-mill levy expire. The 0.56-mill levy costs homeowners $16.36 a year for each $100,000 in home valuation.

The board is prepared to reduce its overall millage because the county's growth in real-estate properties has increased property-tax income, Hodge said.

"There's been tremendous growth in Delaware County, with new homes and subdivisions. We track all that very clearly," she said, adding the board wants to be conservative in its finances.

"We want to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars," Hodge said. "We're grateful for the community's support. We don't want to take that support for granted."

She said if the 0.4-mill levy is approved, she cannot imagine any scenario under which the board would fail to let the 0.56-mill levy expire.

The board also has a 2.1-mill levy in effect. Hodge said it might be able to reduce that levy's rate when its renewal is scheduled in 2020.

She said the board's plan will allow it to meet anticipated cost increases over the next five years.

Currently, 79 percent of the people served by the board are children. The annual average cost to serve a school-age child is $2,101, she said.

During the next five years, nearly 160 of those children will become adults and still will need services, she added.

Adult services are considerably more expensive, averaging $16,293 annually per individual.

That will increase the board's expenses by nearly $8.5 million in those five years, she said.

Because of the county's growth, the board's enrollment has increased 3 percent annually during the past five years, a trend that is expected to continue.

"There are over 2,500 people in our community that rely on our services," Hodge said. "This number is increasing at an average rate of 3 percent each year. If we were to lose any of our funding sources due to a failed levy or change in federal funding, the board would need to assess our current services and make adjustments that will impact the way we support people.

"We are unlike other agencies that serve people for a specific portion of their life," she added. "We have a responsibility to serve people throughout their lifespan. As the population of the people we serve shifts from child to adulthood, we need to adjust our funding accordingly."

The board studies its anticipated needs carefully, Hodge said.

"Our leadership team and business manager put in a great effort to put together a fiscal forecast on the next five, 10 and 15 years," she said.

Based on 2017 assessed property values, the 0.4-mill levy is expected to raise about $3.1 million a year, she said.

County commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the levy July 30.

Commissioner Gary Merrell said DCBDD has "an outstanding board (and) outstanding leadership."

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