MEDINA – A 1-mill human services levy expected to appear on the November ballot would be a first in Medina County and a relative bargain compared to some other counties around Ohio.
If approved by voters, it would cost homeowners about $36 per year for every $100,000 their property is valued at. County Administrator Scott Miller said that’s less than property owners pay for human services levies in other counties of similar size.
Miller produced a chart of 11 Ohio counties with populations ranging from 229,000 to 134,000. Medina is in the middle of that group with about 178,000 residents and the only one without a levy dedicated to fund human services.
All the other counties listed have two or three levies in place to fund children’s services, senior services and the Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board. The average millage for human service levies in those other 10 counties is 3.57 which costs the owner of a $100,000 house $105 annually in property taxes.
Miller’s chart indicates Mahoning County, with 230,000 residents, has three separate levies to fund human services which total 4.7 mills and cost $161 per $100,000 of valuation. Trumbull, Fairfield and Licking counties also have levies totaling at least 4 mills to fund various human services agencies. Green, Portage and Clark counties have levies totaling at least 3 mills.
Warren County, with a population of 229,000, is the county on Miller’s list with the lightest burden on taxpayers to fund human services. It has a 1-mill levy to fund its ADAMH board and 1.2-mill levy for senior services which together cost owners of a $100,000 house about $60 a year in real estate taxes.
Medina County commissioners are planning to place the 1-mill levy on the November ballot. If approved by voters, it will generate about $5 million annually
A similar levy was rejected by voters in 2015, but directors of the three agencies said their need for additional funding has not gone away and asked county commissioners to put the issue before voters again in November.
“To put it simply, the need for human services is growing, but our funding is not keeping up,” said Laura Toth, director of the Officer for Older Adults.
Toth, ADAMH Board Director Phil Titterington and JFS Director Jeff Felton explained some of their funding needs in a presentation to county commissioners. They described how JFS has seen a 72 percent increase in calls to child protective services since 2012 and 112 percent increase in child neglect and abuse investigations. The $4 million ADAMH board budget suffered a $1.6 million cut in state funds in 2012, and the OOA is struggling to provide services like meals and transit to a rapidly aging population that is expected to make up 31 percent of the county population in 10 more years.
The agency heads described how they would allocate the additional funds if county voters approve a 1-mill levy this way:
• The OOA would use the additional $1 million annually to expand its meal programs for seniors and offer older adults more transportation options.
• JFS would use its $2.5 million allocation to add caseworkers to keep pace with demands in elderly case management, adult protective services, child protective services and foster care programs.
• ADAMH would use its additional $1.5 million to improve crisis prevention programs, recovery housing, peer support programs and local treatment options in Brunswick, Wadsworth and Lodi.