Local Government

McHenry County Mental Health Board doles out $8.6M to local agencies

Board highlights more stringent process

Twenty-three local service agencies will receive $8.6 million in funding next year from the McHenry County Mental Health Board.

The amount, slightly more than the $8.4 million projected available in the board’s draft 2015 budget, about matches what it distributed this year and in 2013, despite falling tax revenues. The Mental Health Board’s main job is to disburse funds from a special property tax levy to agencies that provide mental health, developmental disability, substance abuse, behavioral health, prevention and traumatic brain injury programs.

Agencies found this year that the process to decide next year’s funding became more stringent – they had to come before the board itself in a public hearing to justify their funding request.

“In the past, it was normally done by the [Mental Health Board] staff and presented to the board, and this year, the board decided it wanted to take a more active role,” Interim Executive Director Lyn Orphal said.

The nine-member board over the past two years has gone through almost a complete turnover after longtime criticism of the old board’s budgeting and spending priorities reached a boiling point. The new board has pleased critics by slashing administrative costs and rededicating itself to funding local agencies.

One agency that almost lost its funding under the newer scrutiny was Garden Quarter Neighborhood Resource Center. The McHenry-based after-school program was created in 2004 from a police initiative to combat the large number of police calls coming from the center’s namesake apartment complex. Its initial request of $51,778 was denied, but was later approved after Garden Quarter pared it down to $32,305 for programs specifically targeting mental health and substance abuse issues.

Agencies that received funding for 2015 include Centegra Health System, McHenry County Consumer Credit Services, the county’s 22nd Judicial Circuit, the Epilepsy Foundation, Family Alliance, Families ETC, Family Health Partnership Clinic, the McHenry County Department of Health, Home of the Sparrow, Horizons Behavioral Health, Mather’s Clinic, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association, Options and Advocacy, Pioneer Center for Human Services, ProActive Behavioral Health, Rosecrance, the Special Education District of McHenry County, Thresholds, Turning Point and the Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault.

Scott Block, who ran the specialty court programs for the 22nd District, takes over Monday as the board’s full-time executive director. The Mental Health Board has not had a permanent leader since November 2012.

The board’s tax rate of 15 cents per $100 in assessed valuation costs about $91 a year in property taxes for the owner of a $200,000 home who takes the homestead exemption.

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