Sales and property taxes to help fund new Rolling Meadows social services department
Rolling Meadows has formed a new human services department to help meet the high demand for mental health support and other needs of residents, city officials say.
Department operations officially begin Jan. 1, after the city council last week approved new personnel to staff it and the associated funding sources in the $81.9 million city budget for 2024.
To help pay for the department, as well as the annual road repair program, aldermen agreed to a 1% increase in the property tax levy.
That followed their earlier Sept. 26 vote to hike the home-rule sales tax, from 1% to 1.25%, to generate $750,000 in new revenue annually for the department. The tax, which goes into effect in the new year, would affect the purchases of goods and services, but not groceries, medicine and licensed personal property like automobiles.
The city also received a $500,000 operating grant, secured by state Sen. Ann Gillespie, from the state budget.
Since July, city officials have been talking about expanding the police department's social services outreach division into a full-fledged city department. They say it would meet the increasing demands for mental health support, case management, crisis intervention, short-term counseling, court advocacy and officer wellness programs in the city.
Officials also plan to ramp up programming at the police department's neighborhood resource center, which offers legal help, youth summer camps, health and wellness fairs, leadership groups and connections to other resources.
"In the past, we were just dealing with the consequences of mental health and conflict in our community," Mayor Lara Sanoica said. "This wasn't strategic or comprehensive and meant we were often playing catch-up. The human services department will be proactive and help us to better spend our resources."
The city will increase staffing from two to five employees. Social services manager Natalia Nieves will become the department director, and oversee a police social service provider, community social service provider, mental health clinician, office manager, and two student interns.
They currently have contact every year with about 200 crime victims - mainly victims of domestic violence and child abuse - and 60 people with mental health or substance abuse issues.