The Finney County commissioners face a daunting task in balancing our county budget for the coming year. While deliberating over their difficult decisions and trying to best represent their constituents, it is imperative that our representatives maintain funding for services for one group of individuals most in need: people with developmental disabilities.

In their attempt to reduce expenditures county commissioners have repeatedly made cuts to funding for some of Finney County's most vulnerable citizens. Among the proposed cuts for the 2010 budget year is a decrease of $20,000 from the previous year which amounts to a 10 percent cut in funding to providers of services for people with developmental disabilities. This comes on the back of a 13 percent cut in 2009, no change in 2008 and a 15 percent reduction in 2007. We believe these reductions are considerably higher than those experienced by other outside agencies. In a time when we so adamantly encourage community inclusion and independence, cuts year after year to funding for 228 people with developmental disabilities residing in Finney County is immensely shortsighted.

While the developmental disability system is experiencing significant funding cuts in the new state budget these county funds are not intended to replace those cuts. These county funds enhance or subsidize services not paid for with federal and state funds such as transportation. These county funds are vital for the provision of community services in Finney County and greatly add to the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities.

Joining me in strongly urging the Finney County Commission to restore funding for people with developmental disabilities to a level at least equal to the 2009 funding amount: Debbie A. Reynolds, Executive Director, of Mosaic in Garden City; Chris McKinney, President/CEO of Sunflower Special Services Inc.; Sandy Fine, owner of Providence Professional Services, LLC; Tami Schwindt, Finney County SDSI Board Member; Cheryl Sturdevant, owner/administrator of Karis Inc.; Sandra Wiederstein, owner/administrator of Karis Inc.; Carol Galbraith, President/CEO of Destiny Supports Inc.; and Roger Bradshaw, Executive Director of Family Ministries Inc.

MARK G. HINDE,

Garden City

Hinde is President/CEO of Southwest Developmental Services Inc.