New apartments for adults with developmental disabilities nearing completion in Steamboat |

New apartments for adults with developmental disabilities nearing completion in Steamboat

— After nearly seven years of planning and effort, Horizons Specialized Services is within two months of completing its new independent living group home at 445 Eighth St. near Soda Creek Elementary School in Old Town Steamboat Springs.

The residential building is being referred to as the Soda Creek Apartments.

"It took us five years and three tries to get the (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) grant," Horizons Board President Bob Grover told the Routt County commissioners Tuesday.

Horizons Adult Program Director Tatum Heath said the building is on schedule to be completed by mid-February, but because it will house a licensed health care facility and must go through a detailed inspection process, it may be late March or early April before the furniture is installed and the new residents move in.

Horizons provides support for people with developmental disabilities in a five-county region including Routt and Moffat. The new residential buildings — built with the help of a $1.27 million HUD grant, announced in 2011 — will house seven adults who are ready for a more independent lifestyle as well as provide an eighth living unit for an in-house member of the Horizons staff.

Heath said the new residents are being chosen carefully for their readiness to take on more responsibility for developing independent living skills. They will move out of existing Horizons homes, some of them rented, allowing the organization to consolidate those facilities.

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Horizons is funded partially by 1 mill of property taxes in Routt County that was approved by voters in 2005.

Horizons Executive Director Sue Mizen told the Routt County commissioners Tuesday that accounting systems are in place to ensure mill levy funds are only used for Routt County mill levy programs. Mill levy dollars are tracked separately from Medicaid or other funds, she added.

Because the Horizons property tax is generated by a flat mill levy, it does not adjust with inflation and has declined with the county's total drop in assessed valuation in recent years.

Horizons Chief Financial Officer Amy Bowers told the commissioners that the 2014 budget, which goes into effect July 1, anticipates about a 10 percent drop in in mill levy revenues to $1.09 million for that reason.

And Bowers said Horizons came out of the 2013 fiscal year with a surplus fund balance of more than $1.2 million. That money will be drawn down modestly this year to help pay the balance of Horizons' obligation on the cost of constructing the Soda Creek Apartments.

Horizons also receives considerable income from contracts with the state of Colorado that were not included in this week's presentation to the county commissioners.

Mizen said Horizons served 44 clients in fiscal year 2013, including 10 adults, down from 11 adults last year. She is carefully watching a legislative initiative expected to unfold in 2014 driven by state leaders who are seeking to help organizations like hers reduce a waiting list of clients in line for varying levels of services.

"Right now, we have 31 people on our waiting list, but it sounds worse than it is," Mizen told the commissioners. She explained that some of those on the waiting list are receiving services from Horizons, just not as many as they and their families would like. And eight on the list are younger than 18 and won't be eligible for the services they anticipate needing until they are older.

Of the 31 on the list, eight individuals have immediate need for additional support, but only one of them is not receiving any services at all, Mizen added.

Heath said he is pleased with the way the new Soda Creek residential building has turned out.

"We're really happy with what we came up with in terms of design," Heath said. "We feel like it's a comfortable living environment. We’re also proud that all of the subcontractors used on the job were local. We felt that was really important. (General contractor) Calcon did a great job of honoring that."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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