Pounds: For Issues 8, 9Written by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
Toledo and Lucas County voters who head to the polls Nov. 4 face choices on numerous levies, including three for local social service agencies.
Last week, I expressed support for Issue 7, a seven-year, 1.75-mill property tax levy that would help Lucas County Children Services care for local children at risk of abuse or neglect. Two other local agencies that serve vulnerable populations are also deserving of our support on this ballot.
The Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Lucas County (MHRSB) is asking voters to approve Issue 8, a 10-year, 0.5-mill renewal levy expected to generate $3.4 million per year, or about 14 percent of the board’s annual discretionary funds, Executive Director Scott Sylak recently told Toledo Free Press.
The MHRSB helps fund 21 area organizations that provide mental health treatment and drug and alcohol recovery services. Together those agencies provide direct services to about 26,000 Lucas County residents each year.
Issue 8 is not a new tax and would continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $15 annually. The failure of the levy, coupled with an expected $2.6 million drop in state and federal funding — about 11 percent of MHRSB’s budget — would amount to a 25 percent reduction in funds at a time when MHRSB continues to see an increase in the number of people seeking treatment, Sylak told TFP.
“It would be devastating,” he said.
By covering more types of treatments, Medicaid expansion has helped relieve some financial strain on MHRSB, Sylak said. However, the program doesn’t cover vital transition services such as housing or vocational programs, and is set to expire next year unless Congress steps in.
“So many other things in our clients’ lives are destabilized,” Sylak said. “The one thing they really need to be able to count on is there’s going to be help here when they need it most.”
Also on the ballot is Issue 9, a five-year levy renewal with a small increase expected to provide $4.3 million annually for services for area senior citizens. The total cost to the owner of a $100,000 home would be about $19 per year. Lucas County’s senior population has increased 11 percent since 2010 and is expected to increase another 11 percent over the next five years, Area Office on Aging (AOOA) of Northwestern Ohio President and CEO Billie Johnson recently told TFP.
As many as 40,000 seniors are served by AOA each year, through home-delivered meals, home care, senior center programming, day and respite care for caregivers, transportation to medical appointments, assistance with insurance questions and more.
“With such a modest increase, it just seems like a great investment for our community to do for the older citizens who have given so much to this community,” Johnson said.
We are all being asked to do more with less and being asked to support numerous levies might feel like a hardship. However, the delayed costs and negative consequences of not supporting them would be higher. I urge you to support Issues 7, 8 and 9, all of which fund worthwhile agencies that care for our fellow citizens in times of need.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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