Point of View
The issue of county tax support for the Association for the Disabled of Elkhart County — ADEC — programs has been raised as an issue in the race for county commissioner. One of the candidates, Darryl Riegsecker, has promised to cut ADEC’s funding by the county if elected. He has said on several occasions that he supports the mission of ADEC but does not think the county should support it with tax funding. He believes we can raise an additional $450,000 each and every year to replace the funds he wants to cut. I think the following facts are important for you to have at your disposal if friends or family have questions about Elkhart County funding of ADEC programs and services.
Elkhart County funding of ADEC is not new. The first county tax dollars came to ADEC decades ago. Since that time every group of county commissioners and the county council has supported the mission of ADEC with county tax dollars. Why should the county support ADEC? Consider the following:
1. Intellectual and developmental disabilities affect citizens across all demographics, are pervasive conditions and require a lifetime of support.
2. Supporting families who have a family member with an intellectual disability creates a stronger community and increases the tax base when people are able to work rather than relying on full-time care for a lifetime.
3. Giving support and care to people with disabilities is mentioned in both the Constitution of 1816 and also in 1851 with the counties given authority to provide care not provided by the state.
4. Permissive legislation for county funding of developmental disabilities centers was passed by the General Assembly when the community network for mental health treatment and intellectual disability support agencies was developed decades ago.
5. Some services such as guardianship are gravely needed in the community but not funded by state or federal sources.
6. The transportation service provided by ADEC for people with disabilities is their lifeline. The service is vital in a county as large and rural as Elkhart County. Our county funding makes it possible. Without our transportation assistance many ADEC consumers would simply be unable to attend training and employment services.
Why does ADEC need county funding? Consider these cuts made during the budget crisis that are still affecting this and next year’s budget:
1. The rates for placing people with disabilities into jobs was cut 10 percent by Indiana’s Family & Social Services Administration.
2. The rates for group homes for people with disabilities was cut 3 percent by FSSA.
3. The rates for assisting people to live in their own homes was cut 7 percent by FSSA.
4. The program to assist with staff training was cut completely by FSSA.
5. The grant to assist with guardianship was cut completely by FSSA.
6. Elkhart County’s allocation to ADEC was cut 6 percent.
7. The United Way allocation to ADEC was cut, but then partially restored.
The combined total fiscal impact for ADEC is well over $400,000 per year.
A few more facts to keep in mind:
ADEC serves more than 1,000 people, some for a few hours a day and some for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
ADEC employs 450 people and has not been able to give raises to its hard-working and dedicated employees for four years.
ADEC could not absorb health insurance increases this January and had to increase employee insurance costs by 47 percent.
Please advocate with your friends and family for the continued use of county tax dollars for ADEC programs, the people with disabilities we support and their families. If you know Mr. Riegsecker please let him know that tax dollars for ADEC are important to you and to the people of Elkhart County.
Paula M. Shively is president and chief executive officer of the Association for the Disabled of Elkhart County,
Here are the members of the ADEC Board of Directors: Jennifer L. Sager, past chairperson; Kevin R. Boyer, chairperson; Jenny M. Schrock, vice chairperson; John R. Auer, secretary; Don Anderson; Matt Duthie; Anne L. Eisele; John Goebel; Debra S. Hogan; Cindie L. McPhie; Laurie N. Nafziger; Jason Pippenger; Thomas Pletcher; Ronald R. Ray; Brian J. Smith