LOGAN — Hocking County Board of Developmental Disabilities is standing in the corner facing issues, which could result in closing the department if nothing is done.
During the Thursday meeting of the Hocking County Commissioners, Board of DD Superintendent Jill Squires, who has been in attendance of Commissioner meetings since May, brought up her deadline approaching to get a levy on the ballot for the upcoming November election.
Squires, speaking for the Board and those the board services, asked the Commissioners for a 1.5 millage levy to be placed on the ballot for the Board of DD to meet requirements needed to keep its programs running.
Commissioner President Sandra Ogle immediately brought up the obvious issue that the levy would raise taxes.
With the 1.5 millage, the estimated total amount after it is done would be around $992,000 that Hocking County taxpayers would pay.
The Commissioners were sympathetic toward the issue, but speaking on behalf of Hocking County, they unanimously decided to decline the request without a flinch toward the other option.
“I am not going to ask people to pay more in taxes when they barely can afford their life expenses right now,” Ogle stated. “I, we Commissioners, have to think on behalf of the taxpayers and our constituents.”
Squires expressed her desire to have the people of Hocking County make their own decisions and have a chance to vote on the levy.
“Why can’t we just let the people decide and at least give them the option? she questioned. “If they decide it’s a ‘no,’ then we will deal with it.”
The depth of the hole the Board of DD faces has been an ever-growing amount over a few years. As people grow older, their needs increase, and that is exactly how Squires described the reason for her issue with the 265 people in the organization.
“The amount goes up as people get older, it is a fact of life,” she added. “As they get older, their needs intensify, and people with developmental disabilities are no exception to that.”
Squires mentioned how she thought it was great for people to live longer and have fuller lives with their families, but it is a good thing and a bad thing, because of the rising costs.
After the turndown from the Commissioners, Squires proposed the idea to have their three current levies up for replacement on the November ballot, which are two separate 1.5 millages and one .2 millage.
The deadline to have those levies on the ballot is next Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 4 p.m.
To get them on the voting ballot, Hocking County Commissioners would need to create a resolution of necessity for Hocking County Auditor Ken Wilson, and then Wilson would issue a certification. The third step would be a resolution to proceed document, which would put the levies on the ballot.
Between now and the deadline, the Commissioners decided vaguely, without a straight answer, that there would not be enough time to get it all done and Squires would have to wait until the primary election in March.
Ogle did mention her decision to take time and think about the issue more because she said she did not want to make an immediate choice.
Squires, a determined woman, remarked how much she would fight for this issue to be passed. The Board of DD, throughout time, has cut costs during the two years Squires has been in her role.
She reported she has not attended mandatory trainings to save travel money, she has not back-filled vacant positions and she has received grant money to help with her Home Visiting Program.
Although her wishes were not granted in the meeting, Squires said she thanks Commissioner President Ogle, Commissioner Gary Waugh and Commissioner Jeff Dickerson for their consideration.
“I do appreciate their sympathy toward our mission at the DD,” she concluded.