Milton Township moving to form voter-approved mental health board

  • Milton Township voters have approved a ballot measure creating a new community mental health board.

    Milton Township voters have approved a ballot measure creating a new community mental health board. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/2/2021 10:31 AM

The process of forming a mental health board in Milton Township has started in earnest with newly elected officials planning to appoint members of the inaugural panel by the end of June.

Advocates secured voter approval of a tax increase request to create a 708 board, the second of its kind in DuPage County. The board will allocate the funding in the form of grants to local providers of disability, mental health and addiction services.

 

Since last month's election, organizers of the referendum push have turned their focus to getting the 708 board off the ground. A coordinating committee is helping to plan the next steps and develop an application for prospective board members who, if selected, will serve terms of two to four years.

Township leaders also have embraced efforts to launch the board, although the proposal wasn't initially their own.

The referendum question was placed on the April ballot through a petition drive organized by a group of residents. The measure ultimately passed by a margin of 237 votes -- 50.7% of the total.

"This is when communities rise up and work together, and this is where your township government really makes a difference, makes a contribution," committee member Erica Nelson said.

The group has sought to raise money for services against the backdrop of a bureaucratic backlog at the state level, a spike in opioid-related overdose deaths and uneven access to pediatric therapy, especially for young children from low-income families.

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In Illinois, the waiting list to receive state-funded disability services is nearly 18,000 people long. In Milton Township, there are more than 300 people.

The committee will now work with experts to develop an analysis that will delve into areas of need and identify how the first round of 708 board grants could be distributed. The goal is to better coordinate and improve access to services.

As part of that upfront work, the group will continue to reach out to the DuPage County affiliate of The National Alliance On Mental Illness, Easter Seals, the Ray Graham Association and other providers.

"The needs analysis ... will really give a lens into what those needs are and how these grants can help to address those," Nelson said.

John Monino -- Milton's first new township supervisor in 20 years -- will appoint the seven members to the mental health board. Monino will be sworn in on May 14. Under state law, the township has 60 days from his swearing-in to seat the 708 board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Monino said he hopes to make the first mental health board appointments at a township trustee meeting in June. The panel could include doctors, parents, representatives of schools or social service agencies.

"We will do everything in the township to support and grow that and outreach," Monino said.

Township trustees also will get the final say on the amount residents would pay in additional taxes each year. But the request that was approved by voters caps the tax levy for the mental health board at 0.15% of the assessed value of taxable property.

When asked about the tax increase, Monino said the levy is "not going to be touching at that top end" of the cap. He's hoping to have the levy adopted in October or early November.

"We're going to be researching and looking at all aspects so everybody is comfortable," Monino said.

In addition to Milton Township's newly approved board, there is only one other such panel in DuPage in Bloomingdale Township.

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