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Kane hears plea for referendum to fund services for disabled

Updated: January 3, 2013 9:02PM

GENEVA — James Gould, a resident of Carpentersville, talked with the Kane County Public Health Committee about his son Thursday, and the pre-birth brain injury that rendered him disabled.

Gould and a handful of other parents spoke to the committee about placing a referendum question on the April ballot that would help Gould’s son and thousands of others in Kane County with developmental disabilities.

David Gould lives with his parents now, but his father is concerned what the future will bring.

“I can’t leave him for more than an hour, or hour and a half and feel he’s safe,” James said.

The state system is lacking when it comes to help for the developmentally disabled as they age, and this referendum would help correct that in Kane County, the parents said.

The Public Health Committee spent about two hours Thursday discussing the possibility of a referendum that would create a 0.1 percent levy, providing an additional $12 million in revenue to help developmentally disabled residents in Kane County. If approved, the referendum would mean a $52 tax hike for the owner of a $200,000 home.

There are 10,000 people in Kane County who will need lifelong care due to a developmental disability, according to Patrick Flaherty, vice chairman of the Association for Individual Development.

The Aurora-based AID provides services for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill.

The funds generated by the referendum would go toward services and facilities for the developmentally disabled. It would also create a committee designed to evaluate how funds would be dispersed.

Many families with developmentally disabled children are able to provide care for their loved ones after they graduate from school. Flaherty wanted the committee to recognize that may not be a permanent solution, however.

“The bigger problem that many families face is what happens when they’re no longer able to care for their children?” he said.

The potential referendum question will next be talked about at an Executive Committee meeting on Jan. 10. It would need to pass through the executive committee and the full County Board on Jan. 15 in order to be placed on the April ballots.

If that deadline is not met, the next ballot that the question could appear on would be in 2014.

Committee members were skeptical about approving the plan, but ultimately passed it along so a larger discussion could take place at the Executive Committee meeting.

Committee member Melisa Taylor noted that the potential referendum question does nothing for substance abuse or mental health patients.

“In a perfect world, it would include all three,” she said.

There are smaller organizations around the county that address all three issues, but they don’t receive nearly enough funding to address all needs, AID President Lynn O’Shea said.

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