By Brett Milam
The Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities has a 5 year .75 mill tax levy on the May 8 ballot.
It’s a renewal of a levy that originally passed in 2003, wherein a homeowner of a $100,000 home pays $21 per year for the levy. Since it’s a renewal, that figure will not go up this year.
The operating levy would maintain the current services the CCDD gives to the 2,000 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the county.
Dan Ottke, the superintendent of the board, said the board essentially provides services that run the gamut from birth to teenage years to adults and then those in retirement, working around whatever potential needs the person needs.
In other words, the CCDD provides early childhood services, support for children with multiple disabilities between the ages of 6 to 21, support adults to live independently as possible and work a job, home-based services, and services for senior citizens with developmental disabilities.
The goal, however, is to ensure self-determination and independence among these individuals, Ottke said.
Just last year, the board celebrated its 50th anniversary, having been established by state legislation in 1967.
“We’ve always been extremely appreciate of the citizens of the county,” Ottke said.
Ottke is also appreciative that the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the levy, saying they realize that part of attracting business to the community is for workers to have access to the services the CCDD provides. Employers turn out to be some of the biggest advocates of these individuals, Ottke said.
There are two areas Ottke is looking ahead to, if the levy were to pass: the aging caregiver population with the rising age of the Baby Boomers, as the CCDD is the fallback if family members can’t do it, saying it could be a “wave to be prepared for,”; and the increase in youths who have “pretty intensive needs,” he said.
In fact, much like the national numbers, autism diagnoses have risen in the past few years, Ottke said, which is something they are trying to get a sense of, despite not yet knowing empirically why that number is rising.
However, it is a good sign to see more diagnoses, as that means there’s more awareness about autism, Ottke said.
“It’s a really, really good thing,” he said.
What it comes down to is that the levy is to maintain existing services, to service the urban component and the major metropolitan area that spills over from Cincinnati, Ottke said.
“We want to avoid waiting lists for day service or any service,” he said.
The .75 million tax renewal levy accounts for a sixth of the CCDD’s revenue, Ottke said, so they would have to deal with making hard cuts in services somewhere or deal with those waiting lines.
Even though there is no organized opposition to the CCDD’s renewal tax levy, Ottke said they certainly don’t take that for granted and are hopeful it will pass.
Ottke said the CCDD is there to provide services that promote independence, health and safety and ultimately, and primarily, to ensure that individual is as self-determined as possible.
“Just because they have an intellectual or developmental disability, first and foremost, they have rights and gifts and talents that we do,” Ottke said. “We have always, be it through various ways…to share the value that these people we serve offer to the community.”
To learn about the CCDD and its levy, please go to clermontddlevy.com. The CCDD is also part of the county’s open house in the month of April, with their particular fair scheduled on the 24th.
The fair is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on 2040 US Highway 50 in Batavia. Members of the Clermont County Voices self-advocacy group will be available to give facility tours and answer questions about the challenges they have faced in their everyday lives.
Ottke said they are more than happy to field questions from citizens about what the CCDD does and offers. Interested individuals can contact the CCDD at 513-732-7000.