Issue 29 will help fund the Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

It should show up on your ballot- whether you are voting in the dem or rep primary- because it isn’t a party-specific issue; everyone should vote to support the great work of the MRDD.

The Dispatch has done a pretty good job choosing their endorsements this year – and their support for Issue 29 is no exception…

Voters should approve Issue 29, a permanent 3.5-mill countywide property-tax levy to pay for the essential programs and services of the Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

The levy would replace a 1.65-mill permanent levy, approved by voters in 1982, and increase it by 1.85 mills. At the same time, a 10-year, 2.32-mill levy, approved in 1998, will expire at the end of this year. The new levy would be collected beginning in 2009.

In effect, a single, permanent levy would replace two levies, one temporary and the other permanent. The new levy would give the agency a stable source of income necessary for long-range budgeting and for receiving federal and state grants, particularly those that require matching funds.

The agency also receives funding from a 10-year, 3.5-mill levy, approved by Franklin County voters in 2001. It will expire in 2012. Together, the two levies, one permanent and one requiring periodic renewal, ensure that the agency can keep serving residents while being held accountable to voters.

When criticized for poor management practices in the 1990s, agency officials responded by cutting expenses in order to stretch tax dollars. The focus on efficiency has continued. Despite an increase of about 4.3 percent per year in numbers of people needing services, staff levels dropped.

Population growth and increased longevity of people needing assistance in everyday activities are among reasons the agency’s budget keeps expanding. Its mission — to help people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities live, work and learn in this community — requires many kinds of services to people of all ages and their families.

Educational programs for children younger than 6 have proved so successful that 90 percent of these youngsters later can attend standard classrooms rather than special schools. Other services help students and adults acquire an education and skills that ensure they can lead as independent and productive lives as possible. Many are able to find employment in central Ohio in a variety of jobs.

The MRDD board has made itself an able steward of taxpayers’ dollars and deserves the continued support of county residents. Voters should approve Issue 29.