acBy TIMOTHY COX
Partial settlement of a lawsuit against two state agencies will
help ease the financial burden for the Mercer County Board of
Mental Retardation/Develop-mental Disabilities (MR/DD), but
it still will be one of the tightest budgets in years.
Board members at Monday’s regular meeting revised the
2004 budget plan to reflect nearly $400,000 in additional revenue
through anticipated payments from the state Department of MR/DD
and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The money
is to correct underpayments for Medicaid-eligible services during
the past decade. Eighty-six of Ohio’s 88 counties have
sued the two state departments over the issue.
The financial windfall allowed board members to increase the
budget to reflect the additional revenue, but the plan still
calls for expenses to equal revenue. The budget includes no
pay raises for employees, no capital improvements, no new equipment
and reductions to many line items.
“The situation is much brighter than it was a month ago.
It’s still not perfect by any means,” Overman said.
“We all know here internally that we don’t have
any fallback cash.”
Local MR/DD workers also are forming an internal task force
to look at further budget-cutting measures, Overman said.
MR/DD workers will be among the minority of county employees
who do not see a pay raise next year. Most county employees
are getting 2.3 percent pay hikes.
“Because of the situation, I cannot, in any kind of good
faith, recommend any kind of raises for the staff,” Overman
said, adding that the pay issue could be revisited later next
year, but only if the department’s financial picture vastly
If not for the lawsuit settlement, the board likely would be
looking at a deficit budget for next year.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by the Cuyahoga MR/DD
board and soon was joined by 85 other counties, including Mercer.
The local boards dispute how the state MR/DD department of ODJFS
calculated Medicaid reimbursement for some services. Overman
said the state offices used to conduct thorough audits to determine
reimbursement rates but those eventually became to overwhelming
to do annually. Instead, the state departments started setting
arbitrary rates that many counties said failed to meet the proper
The Mercer County board accepted a proposed settlement for 1997
and 1999 for $125,000. Another settlement for $277,000 for 2000
and 2001 is expected in the near future. The sides continue
to negotiate settlements for the other years in question. The
dispute dates back to the early 1990s.
Overman said the local settlement figures are extremely close
to the county’s actual costs.
The total claim for the county over the decade-long dispute
tops $500,000, Overman said. Statewide, county boards claim
they are owed more than $100 million from the Medicaid system.
In other business Monday, board members:
• Learned the board’s more common moniker, Cheryl
Ann Programs, will appear on the ballot as part of the board’s
1.94-mill property tax levy renewal bid in March. Board members
believe more people are familiar with Cheryl Ann than MR/DD
and thus will more fully understand what they are voting on.
• Agreed to let the board’s non-profit arm, the
CA Industries board, pay for about $9,000 in improvements to
add walls to a wide open area in the workshop. The board agreed
they will reimburse the costs when finances improve.
• Agreed to pay $4,606 to the Ohio County Boards of MR/DD
Association, on part for legal representation in the Medicaid
• Met for 45 minutes in executive session to discuss the
discipline of an MR/DD employee. No action was taken after the