Back in early December, Geneva's City Council dispersed $139,000 to about a dozen local agencies, from the Ecker Center for Mental Health to Tri-City Family Services to Lazarus House and many more.
At that time, Lynn O'Shea of the Association for Individual Development spoke passionately about the desperate financial situation facing Kane County's mental health providers.
"We have (hundreds of people) on the waiting list, and that is the issue we are trying to address right now," she said. "Resources continue to decline, and we cannot keep up with the pace of need. We have people who have been waiting 10 years."
O'Shea announced then that the AID board had made the decision to pursue a referendum on the April ballot seeking a .1 percent tax increase, which she said would result in about a $54 tax increase per household for the owner of a $200,000 home.
"We need everyone’s help to solve this problem," she said.
AID and a group called Show You Care Kane started a petition drive to raise signatures in time to put the question on the April 9 ballot. Supporters went to Kane County with a request to put a referendum on the ballot that would raise about $13 million for the care of the developmentally disabled.
Kane County's Public Health Committee on Thursday recommended the full County Board approve the referendum, according to an article in the Kane County Chronicle. The question would move to the county's Executive Committee on Jan. 10, according to an article in The Beacon-News. The County Board has until Jan. 22 to vote on the question and is expected to vote on Jan. 15.
A chart provided on the Show You Care Kane website indicates the tax increase would cost about $83 a year for the owner of a $250,000 home.
An article in the Daily Herald points out that local funding mechanisms for mental health differ throughout the county. The south part of the county has a 708 Board, but townships in the northern part of Kane County do not. The cities of Geneva and St. Charles have their own municipal mental health boards.
One of the many tough questions is whether the establishment of a countywide funding source would eliminate the need or reduce the tax rates for the local mental health boards and the 708 Board on the southern end of Kane County.
AID Vice President Patrick Flaherty told Kane County that local agencies serve about 40,000 developmental disabled residents of Kane County, about 10,000 of whom require lifelong care. Countywide, there is a 1,100-person waiting list for services.
Proposed Ballot Question
Shall Kane County levy an annual tax not to exceed 0.1% upon the equalized assessed value of all taxable property in the county for the purposes of providing facilities or services for the benefit of its residents who are intellectually disabled or under a developmental disability and who are not eligible to participate in any program provided under Article 14 of the School Code, 105 ILCS 5/14-1.01 et seq., including contracting for those facilities or services with any privately or publicly operated entity that provides those facilities or services either in or out of the county?