MRDD Board anticipates intense funding declines

A contingency plan involves layoffs and discontinued services.
NILES -- The Trumbull County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities is in danger of losing 50 percent of its annual budget.
Superintendent Dr. Douglas A. Burkhardt said two issues contribute to the possibility of an almost $9 million loss: a change in the Community Alternative Funding System and a levy that will be on the ballot this year.
Fairhaven programs
MRDD runs the Fairhaven programs for mentally retarded adults who live in intermediate care facilities in Trumbull County. Intermediate care facilities have a nursing home environment and provide specialized services and staff. There is one state institution, Youngstown Developmental Center, and three other private for-profit facilities in Trumbull County: Boyd's Kinsman Home, The Enrichment Center, and Orange Village Care Center.
The Fairhaven programs are workshops that include recreation, like oil painting, and employment opportunities. Adults who are able subcontract with local companies, earn a paycheck and pay taxes, Burkhardt said.
Funding comes directly from the federal government through Medicaid, but as of July 1, it will go directly to the intermediate care facilities. The facilities will decide whether to keep the money and provide the services themselves, or contract with other providers.
Burkhardt said MRDD will still be funded at a lesser amount and it will not make any changes in its services now.
"We've decided to wait until Dec. 31 to see if the money we receive is sufficient," he said.
Countywide levy
The other factor in the potential revenue loss is a countywide levy that will be on the ballot in November. The levy was first passed 10 years ago, and based on county values at that time. Burkhardt said the board will ask the community to make it a replacement levy; it should then bring in a little more money, although he didn't know a definite amount.
Burkhardt said CAFS brings in about $2.8 million and the levy brings in about $6 million.
"That's almost $9 million of an $18 million budget," he said.
If CAFS does not bring in enough money and the levy does not pass, Burkhardt said the contingency plan is canceling some programs and laying off about 115 employees.
"We will not cease to exist, but the services will be quite different," he said.

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