By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall
We thought it might be interesting to review once again the cash on hand for the Board of Developmental Disabilities (a.k.a. Deepwood), and see what has happened to them financially since our first review back in 2019.
What we have discovered is truly breathtaking, but right in line with the growth of the Lake County government and the myriad of non-profits that are feeding at the government trough.
The following article was written on March 2, 2019.
The Lake County Budget Director provided the following projected “Statement of Fund Activity” for the Board of Development Disabilities for 2024. Note that the ending cash balance for 2024 is projected to be “only” $22,843,540.
We sent an email to LCBDD Director, Elfie Roman, and asked about the big drop in cash balances, and the increase in operating expenses. In her following email, she indicated that everything is done in accordance with the State Law, and they only have to report the fund (215) that apply to the General Fund. In other words, they only have to report one of the funds to the public. Here is Ms. Roman’s response:
Let’s see what happens when we pull back the curtain on all of their funds. The following schedule is a current analysis of their fund balances from 2015 – 2018 and 2023. Please note that the “Budget Stabilization Fund” has grown to $14,923,415.01, and the “Capital Improvements Fund” has grown to $9,573,833.32. It is so darn easy to make a journal entry transferring money from the 215 account to the “Budget Stabilization Fund”. Like magic it disappears…
To give the reader a sense of how impressive the $14,923,415,01 is for any one individual entity, the Lake County government’s amount for “Budget Stabilization” (account 213) is “only” $9,042,400.00 as of July 31, 2023!
Deepwood’s Budget Stabilization Fund is $5,881,015.01 (65.0%) more than the entire Lake County government.
However, Deepwood may be experiencing workforce issues that seem so prevalent in the Resident Biden economy. We received the following from a former Deepwood employee, indicating a problem.
I was also astonished to recently learn that the JCDC residential facility has been shut down. Any remaining clients were packed up and sent over to ARC.
They have since leased out that County building, so there is possibly additional income to report from that.
Additionally, I hear the employee work atmosphere has degraded so badly, the 169 Board cannot keep new trained staff employed much past 6 mo. So a memo was sent out from the Board to all the Deepwood staff. Saying, If they are successful in recruiting any new direct care personal (who make it past their 6 mo. review period) that staff recruiter will be paid $5k from the Board. Sounds pretty dire straits if you ask me.Anonymous
The reader may ask why can’t some of the property tax money collected be returned to the taxpayers. Why can’t the Budget Commission, the financial watchdog for the Lake County taxpayers, return excess funds to the taxpayers?
Let us remind our readers that there is no “watchdog” for the taxpayers. Prosecutor Chuck Coulson, and also a member of the Budget Commission, is also the legal counsel for Deepwood. He has clearly stated that because of a Supreme Court ruling once the taxpayers have voted on a property tax levy, the Budget Commission has no authority to reduce the revenue being collected. Not all County Prosecutors agree with Coulson’s position on this issue.
The Treasurer, Mike Zuren, and Auditor Galloway, will not countermand the decision by the Prosecutor since they do not want to be personally sued by the political subdivision impacted by their ruling. They are basically rubber stampers!
Here are three videos dealing with the Lake County Budget Commission. The first video cover the meeting with Deepwood in 2021. LFC complained about the excessive fund balances being accumulated by Deepwood. This was Auditor Galloway’s first meeting, and Prosecutor Coulson recused himself from the discussion since he is the legal advisor for Deepwood, and there would have been a conflict of interest if he weighed in on the issue.
In our opinion, there is a built in conflict of interest with the Prosecutor being on the Budget Commission. However, since the Ohio Revised Code states that the Prosecutor, Treasurer and Auditor make up the Board, we will need the State legislators’ help to solve that dilemma.