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Election: Franklin County Developmental Disabilities’ levy renewal wouldn’t raise tax

By Kimball Perry, Columbus Dispatch
Published Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Paula Klentz loves the princess her 5-year-old daughter has become.

“Now, she wants to be the center of attention,” she said of Alexandria, who goes by Lexy.

That hasn’t been the case since just after Lexy was born and then diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a brain disorder that impairs muscle movement and motor functions including speech. It’s caused by a brain injury or malfunction prior to or shortly after birth.

Lexy was quiet and reserved before she started receiving services from the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, an agency seeking renewal of one of the two property taxes that provides three-quarters of it’s $240 million annual budget.

The slight, blonde girl with pigtails began receiving services in her home, but for the last four years has participated in the board’s early childhood development program. There, she mixes with others receiving developmental disabilities services as well as children enrolled in Head Start and YMCA programs. The groups share resources, creating a diverse group of children in what Lexy calls “school.”

Lexy once couldn’t tolerate noise and had little body movement. Now, after four years in the program, mom uses the threat of not going there to make Lexy behave.

“The kids get to socialize more. They get to interact with (other) kids,” Paula Klentz said.

Klentz also has a 3-year-old son, Jacob, with autism who receives services from the Developmental Disabilities Board. Autism is a variety of conditions that can include intellectual disabilities, repetitive behavior, nonverbal communication, and difficulty with speech and socialization.

The Developmental Disabilities Board provides services annually to 21,000 children, adults and seniors and their families.

For some, services can be provided from cradle to grave. They include operating a school, transportation, placing adults in housing and work programs and providing for seniors. The population the board serves has doubled since 2000 and is expected to continue to increase as advances in medicine allow people with disabilities to live longer. Franklin County’s 1.3 million population is projected to increase by up to 1 million by 2050.

The Developmental Disabilities Board benefits from two Franklin County property taxes, each raising $94.2 million annually and costing $106.89 per $100,000 of home value. Combined, they raise $188.4 million and cost the owner of a $100,000 house $213.78 per year.

One property tax was made permanent in 2009. The other is due to expire at the end of 2018. Its proposed 10-year renewal is the only countywide issue on the Nov. 7 ballot. It will not raise taxes. It has no known organized opposition.

“We have a wide spectrum of people who we serve,” Jed Morison, superintendent and chief executive officer of the board, said. Some require services for a few hours a day, some around the clock for life.

That includes 100 at West Central School, the board’s school, another 100 enrolled in 16 public school districts as well as 90 to 100 who are institutionalized.

“Services are based on individual needs,” Morison said.

The board places high expectations on those receiving services. For example, adults who are capable now are expected to get a job, often with the help of the board, to make them more productive and active.

The board’s programs have worked for Lexy. Her muscle tone has improved and she can sit up without support.

“When she started, she couldn’t hardly move at all,” her mom said. “Now, she has a walker. She can eat solid food.

“She’s grown a lot.” 


This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in the Columbus Dispatch. The original story can be found at:

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