Local developmental disabilities services board declares fiscal emergency
The Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services declared a fiscal emergency Tuesday. That’s after a recent budget report revealed the agency faces an $18 million deficit per year for the next five years.
Since 2009, demand for services for Montgomery County’s Board of Developmental Disabilities has doubled. At the same time, it saw continual revenue losses.
That’s partly because federal rules required some services county agencies provided to be privatized, like adult day and transportation services, so agencies don’t receive as much state funding.
That loss in revenue has resulted in a $13 million loss on an annual basis since 2017 for the county agency, which includes $7 million in day services and transportation revenue annually.
It has also had to pay more to cover the costs of services to individuals with developmental disabilities between 2011 and 2022. It used to be that the county was required to pay 27 cents on the dollar for each waiver; it now pays 37 cents on the dollar.
To counter some of those losses, the county agency began to move toward teleworking in 2019, which saved costs in staffing.
Between 2017 and 2018 it closed four centers that provided adult day services to people with developmental disabilities who were residents of Montgomery County after those services were privatized.
It also closed a fifth administrative building in 2019, which helped reduce utility and operations costs.
Pamela Combs, the board's superintendent, said the county agency is already working toward avoiding any major impacts on the services it provides.
“We do not anticipate a direct impact being felt by the people that we serve and the families that we support. We are managing the impact through our administrative functions,” Combs said. “Even though we are facing a deficit, our services continue to increase, so we won't be downsizing staff.”
The agency plans to close and sell its Southview facility near Wilmington Avenue, which it mostly used as a community center for activities and events for clients, according to Combs.
The Northview facility, on North Main Street in Dayton, will stay open.
The county will provide $17 million dollars from its federal American Rescue Plan Act money to bridge the deficit gap for 2024 and 2025, with additional funding from the county’s Human Services Levy Council.
“The $17 million in ARPA funds we are utilizing for this deficit is for expenses we know are directly tied to the pandemic,”Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said. “We know those expenses meet the requirements the federal government has in place governing the use of ARPA funds.”
Combs said the ARPA funds will keep the agency running until 2025. Although it’s working to look at other review streams after that funding runs out.
“[We’re] looking at different funding scenarios, looking at services, looking at supports, looking at, staffing,” Combs said. “So we've already started looking at that. And I'm confident we'll have a plan in place before the end of this year.”
Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.