Agency Wants to Double Tax Rate Next Year
The county agency serving those with developmental disabilities wants a tax increase, the agency executive director said Tuesday.
Dr. Ron Kruse, executive director of Developmental Services of Franklin County (DSFC), told the county commission that his agency needs more money to expand services to those in need.
"We have a wide array of services we offer to those with developmental disabilities from birth almost to death," Kruse said.
Kruse and the agency's board of directors is seeking to double its current property tax rate and wants the issue to be put on the April 5, 2011, ballot.
He estimated there are more than 300 individuals living in the county who have some form of autism, a neural development disorder, and more than 100 people on waiting lists for employment and support at Sheltered Workshops Inc., Washington, and Sheltered Industries of the Meramec Valley, Sullivan.
"There is a lot that can be done for these people," Kruse said. "We have a need for facilities. We need to upgrade the sheltered workshops in Washington and Sullivan.
"Rainbow (Activity Center) has two locations in Union and could be more efficient if it had a new facility under one roof," he said.
Rainbow is an adult care center that cares for those with disabilities.
Kruse said the Pacific area is underserved and developmental services could be expanded to the area with additional funding.
The agency serves those with developmental disabilities and offers support to their families.
Kruse noted that, with a roughly $700 million shortfall anticipated in the state of Missouri's upcoming budget, funding from the state could be cut.
"There's a great deal of stress on the families (of those with developmental disabilities) and with the state facing a budget crisis, we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask the taxpayers for more taxes," he said.
"The taxes would stay here in Franklin County as they are now and would continue to be used effectively and efficiently," Kruse said.
"We know this is a tough economic time, but the children we treat, they don't know that. They just know that they graduated from a special education program somewhere and they need a job," he said, referring to those on the waiting lists at the sheltered workshops.
"The need is here right now," Kruse said.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said he appreciates the work Kruse's agency does.
"I'm not a big property tax advocate, but I've had a lot of contacts in my years as a legislator from families needing support," Griesheimer said. "Every time I've contacted (DSFC), they've been able to get it done.
"The people that you serve, I call them God's people because they are very very special," Griesheimer said."
The organization currently receives about $1.7 million in funding from the county a year, Kruse said.
The agency receives other funding including state and federal money and has a total annual budget of about $5.5 million.
The agency works with other nonprofit entities including Exceptional Equestrians, the county's sheltered workshop facilities, Rainbow and others, to seek combined grant funding through a nonprofit entity the groups set up last year.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said the funding DSFC receives from the county is from a 10 cent per $100 of assessed valuation property tax.
Kruse said DSFC would like to double that amount, raising the tax rate to 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
That would double the funding the agency receives from the county.
Kruse said he hopes the commission would consider the issue within the next month in time to put it on the April ballot.
Commissioners said if the agency can prepare proposed ballot language by the end of the first week of January 2011, it could be discussed at the Jan. 11, 2011, meeting.
The deadline to put an issue on the April 5, 2011, ballot is Jan. 25, 2011.
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