Two Faulkner County legislators have introduced a bill that would give the state’s five Human Development Centers $10 million for building and infrastructure improvements.
Rep. Doug House (R-North Little Rock), whose district includes Mayflower and Vilonia, and Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) will introduce amendments to the 2014-15 Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities funding appropriation that would dedicate the money from the General Improvement Fund. The amendment has passed the Joint Budget Committee.
The state’s largest Human Development Center is in Conway (CHDC). Other HDCs operate in Arkadelphia, Booneville, Warren and Jonesboro.
"It’s not a whole lot of money," House said, "but it’ll get some repairs done; things like painting and fixing up here and there. These facilities need a big infusion of cash, but this is what we can do right now."
According to Rapert, in CHDC’s buildings, "there are areas that need complete renovation, and other areas where they just need new windows," for example, and the Booneville center, which operates out of a 105-year-old building built as a tuberculosis sanitarium, could use more extensive renovations.
"It’s a lot of little things," House said. "This socket doesn’t work, light fixtures need to be traded out; it’s a lot of little things like that."
Also, House said, the money is limited to capital improvements, not operations, and while the state’s HDC staff do a job that takes "the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon and the courage of David," the emphasis should be on the areas used by the people that live and receive care at the HDCs rather than staff areas and offices.
The $10 million allocation would "roll over" into the next fiscal year, meaning that if only $8 million is spent, the remaining $2 million would remain available for HDC capital improvements rather than being reabsorbed by the General Improvement Fund.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)