ELGIN COURIER-NEWS |
By ERIN SAUDER
SEP 20, 2019 | 1:35 PM
Trish Glees is no stranger to inquiries from local parents seeking services for their children with mental health, emotional or behavioral disorders.
“There are a lot of people out there who are struggling and not sure what to do,” the Dundee Township supervisor said. There are currently roughly 200 people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in the township who are waiting for services.
“Having even one person waiting is one too many,” Glees said.
That’s why Dundee Township voters will see a referendum question on the March 2020 ballot asking for permission to increase property taxes up to .15 % in order to create a 708 Mental Health Board.
Named after House Bill 708, the legislation is also known as the Community Mental Health Act. A board, which would be comprised of seven volunteers, can only be established through referendum by a community, municipality or township. If approved by voters, the special tax funds are used for planning and funding mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse services.
The seven-person board would be put in place by township trustees, Glees said.
“At which point that’s when we’ll be able to take a really good deep dive into not only mental and physical disabilities," she said. “Obviously we know there’s a national opioid crisis. We know there are substance abuse issues. What else are we missing? That’s where that board comes in and can help shape us to actually help the most people."
At Dundee Township’s annual meeting April 9, attendees were asked if they would support such a referendum. Respondents voted 45 to 39 in favor of the referendum proposal.
“The response was, ‘Yeah, go for it. We would support it,’” Glees said. “So the board did some due diligence over the summer and we did vote for seeking the referendum.”
Future steps include launching a public information campaign on the initiative and reaching out to the municipalities within Dundee Township.
“(We want them to) know what we’re doing and how they can help us with identifying issues," Glees said. “The more partners I have, the more successful I think this will be.”
Elgin Township announced plans to place a 708 Mental Health Board referendum question on the March 2020 election ballot earlier this month.
Erin Sauder is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.