By Timothy Cox
Mercer County Board of Mental Retardation (MR/DD) and Developmental Disabilities is facing another tight budget in 2005 and no pay raises for employees, but all current services apparently will remain intact.
Board members this week reviewed the $4.1 million budget that is almost identical to this year's spending plan. Board members did not vote on the budget; they will do so after year's end when numbers are finalized.
MR/DD Superintendent Mike Overman said officials will continue to hold the line on spending to stay within available revenue.
Two employees who quit this year were not replaced and two others plan to begin sharing one full-time position, Overman said. Any additional retirements this year or next likely would not be replaced with new hires either, he said. The proposed budget includes almost no money for new equipment and includes scaled back repair and maintenance line items. Staff development programs and seminars will be cut to bare bones. The agency's 60 employees likely will go without pay raises for the second year in a row.
"The board is not happy we'll be going into another year with no money available for pay raises," Overman said. "We have to take these kinds of measures. Things are bad, but we're going to be OK." The MR/DD program draws its revenue from state and federal sources and through local property tax levies. The agency does not receive any county general fund money, and so is not included in a directive for most county offices to trim their budgets by 10 percent next year.
In other business this week, MR/DD board members:
´ Agreed to pay first quarter dues of about $1,500 to the Ohio Association of Boards of MR/DD for 2005 membership. Board members had delayed the payment as the state association worked through a scandal involving its former director that surfaced several months ago.
"I'm real confident the association is going to remain a viable organization and will continue to serve us well," Overman said.
´ Learned that Petermann Transportation, the board's transportation contractor, plans to replace two more school buses with transit-style buses next year. Board members agreed to pay an additional $175 per month per bus to outfit them with air-conditioning. The buses will serve adult MR/DD clients who attend programs throughout the summer months.