Delaware County Commissioners approved placing a renewal of a 1.2-mill senior services levy on the May ballot with a 0.1 mill increase for SourcePoint. The 1.2-mill levy that was approved by voters in 2013 is due to expire at the end of 2018.
“We’re asking for a renewal of the levy that passed in 2013 plus the addition of 0.1 mill,” said SourcePoint Executive Director Robert Horrocks. “That 0.1 mill will be a new tax of $3.50 for $100,000 of property valuation, less than one penny a day.”
According to Chief Operating Officer Kimberly Clewell, the 1.2-mill levy costs approximately $32.13 per year for $100,000 of property valuation. Witht the renewal that will not change.
Horrocks said the older adult population is currently the fastest growing segment in the county, but said it’s a good thing. He said an older population “provides a sense of stability” because most are healthy, financially secure, engaged in the community, and they pay sales tax, property taxes, and income taxes.
“Most of us are involved with supporting our families, our children, and our grandchildren,” he said. “We support local businesses, we support local restaurants, and all of that is good.”
However, Horrocks said there is a subset of the population that needs support to remain living safe and secure in their homes.
“Our average client is a 79-year-old female widow that lives alone and the fastest growing part of the population is 85 years and older,” he said. “As we age there is the greater likelihood of having a moderate or severe disability.”
Horrocks said when faced with large health issues people begin to question the best course of action. He said in the past it meant being placed in a nursing home.
“Today we have excellent services and an excellent system,” he said. “As the older population continues to age it could seem like a huge challenge, but because of the foresight of our community we’ve solved that problem.”
Horrocks said today the county has a coordinated system of services and care for the needs of the older population. He said the system is a great advantage but the community needs to keep pace with the growth.
“That is what our levy is all about,” he said. If the levy is passed by the voters “we’ll be able to say to our community we’re good until 2023 to continue to keep our promise that we made 25 years ago. That promise was no waiting list for in-home care services and that we would try our very best to use this money in the best interest of our older population and our community.”
According to SourcePoint literature, at the current rate of growth the older adult population is expected to reach 58,802 in 2020 and 82,015 by 2030. SourcePoint “provided in-home care to more than 1,600 older adults in 2017” with a budget of $9.6 million. If an individual were to live in a nursing home the “cost of care would exceed $100 million annually.” Eighty percent of SourcePoint’s budget is funded by levy dollars. Other sources include grants, donations, service fees, sponsorships, and more.
Commissioner Jeff Benton said he tends to focus on the numbers.
“I’m always torn because no one likes taxes,” he said. “Everybody realizes we have to pay them and nobody wants to increase taxes in particular. I probably hear more complaints about taxes from senior citizens because of the fixed income nature that they have more than any other group.”
Benton worked alongside Horrocks on the numbers. Originally, they considered a complete replacement tax levy.
“A replacement levy would have significantly increased taxes to all citizens of Delaware County,” Benton said. “The renewal with a small increase does save the taxpayers a lot of money.”
Benton explained that the county receives a rollback on the current 1.2 mill levy. If they had gone strictly with a replacement, the rollback funding would have been lost costing taxpayers more than the renewal with an increase.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.