Wood Lane defends levy request PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER/Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 09:50
Wood County Commissioners say they need more time to consider Wood Lane's levy proposal.
Representatives of the nonprofit provided additional information during a meeting with commissioners Tuesday, addressing questions about recent fund transfers and why the additional money is required to continue operations. Several county officials previously expressed concern over the size of the levy and its potential fate with voters.
Wood Lane has asked to place a five-year, 3.5-mill levy on the November ballot. An estimate from a representative of the county auditor's office Tuesday indicated it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $122.50 per year.
Wood Lane currently receives support from six continuing levies totalling 6.7 mills, though collections have been reduced to 4.7 mills.
Treasurer Jill Engle continued to ask questions about fund balances and recent transfers, specifically posing whether an $8 million fund transfer was related to Wood Lane currently seeking a levy.
Fiscal director Steve Foster said the two were unrelated, and that the larger transfer was needed to increase two other funds that have declined in recent years.
Superintendent Melanie Stretchbery also attempted to make the financial case for support of the levy. She said expenses have been cut in recent years to reduce the need for additional money, outlining several other areas for potential savings that would only make a dent in the problem. She said the alternative to a successful levy is simply to cut staff and reduce Wood Lane's services.
Stretchbery said Wood Lane's finance committee recently considered a levy with a shorter term, but it would require the group go back to the polls sooner and could result in voter fatigue.
Addressed when Wood Lane staff first discussed the levy with commissioners July 2 was a policy that would require those eligible for Medicaid funding to apply for it. Stretchbery said there is still stigma attached to welfare programs, and County Administrator Andrew Kalmar suggested Wood Lane representatives gather data on the financial impact of those who don't seek such funding.
Stretchbery reported Tuesday that the policy would affect five clients who "refused" to apply for a Medicaid waiver, and result in a total savings of $57,144 per year. That and other potential savings would only make a dent in a drop in the general fund, projected to end the year with $7.1 million, down from $12.4 million at the end of 2012.SClBCommissioner Joel Kuhlman said he needed more time to consider the information presented Tuesday. A deadline for approval of the levy is Aug. 7, though commissioners said they will likely make a decision sooner on whether to send it to voters.
Kuhlman said what he's heard during the two meetings is the kind of information voters will be looking for when deciding whether they would support the levy.
"You've definitely bullet-pointed all the questions that I think you can expect to be asked, and that there is a reasonable response to each of those," he said. "That's all you can do. If this is the amount you want to go for and you want to go for it over five years, I don't know what else you can do but implement the campaign for it. You've explained everything to me, and I think you've had the answer."SClBCommissioner Doris Herringshaw agreed that it will be up to Wood Lane to convince voters of its need for the levy.
"You have the knowledge, obviously," she said. "You've done your homework. Now I think the issue is making sure it's understood. … A lot of it's going to be perception."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 09:59

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