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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Illinois Kane County voters to decide on tax hike; March 18 ballot measure would aid developmentally disabled

By Stephanie K. Baer, Chicago Tribune reporter, March 03, 2014

When Kane County residents vote on March 18, they will be asked to consider a tax increase request that would generate about $12 million annually to fund services for the developmentally disabled.
The ballot proposal would tax property at 0.1 percent of its assessed value, and the money would be distributed by a disability board — known as a 377 board — to agencies that support independent living, jobs, therapy, transportation and supportive care for those with development disabilities.
For the owner of a $182,000 house, the average tax increase would be about $55 a year.
According to the Show You Care Kane campaign, at least 1,100 people with developmental disabilities are without services that the tax would fund.
"I've seen firsthand the parents that haven't been able to get services because there isn't any funding for their children," said Gil Fonger, a member of the campaign and president and chief executive officer of Marklund, a nonprofit that provides services for the developmentally disabled.
"What they do is sit in front of a TV set all day long," Fonger said. "The question becomes what are we, as a county, willing to do to support people with developmental disabilities."
Opponents of the referendum proposal have said that the new tax would place an undue burden on taxpayers.
If the proposal is passed, the county, according to officials, would be the first in the state to have both a countywide disability board and several township mental health boards.
The mental health boards, known as 708 boards, fund services for the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill and those with substance abuse disorders. The 377 board would only supports the developmentally disabled.
And while it is unclear how the different boards would work together, Patrick Flaherty, campaign member and vice chair of the Association for Individual Development board of directors, said that could be worked out through an intergovernmental agreement.
"It's a very minor issue in the whole scheme of things," he said.

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