There are three county-
wide issues on the Portage County ballot on Nov. 5. None of them will increase taxes.
Issues 1 and 2 are renewal levies to provide funding for the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Issue 3 is a renewal levy for the Portage County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
Renewal of the levies will ensure funding for the important services overseen by both boards. We urge a "Yes" vote on Issues 1, 2 and 3.
Issues 1 and 2
Issues 1 and 2 provide roughly one-third of the annual operating revenue of the Board of Developmental Disabilities, whose programs served about 1,000 individuals last year, including those enrolled at Happy Day School. Early intervention services, family support services, transportation and services to more than 250 students enrolled in schools through Portage County are among the operations the benefit from the levies.
Issue 1 would renew a five-year, 2-mill operating levy that first was passed in 1989. Issue 2 would renew a 10-year, 0.9-mill levy that was approved in 2004. The Board of Developmental Disabilities has not requested "new" local funding in 10 years. Together, the levies cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $57 per year in property taxes; that will not change if they are renewed.
Like many agencies that receive state funding, the board has seen a reduction in its support from Columbus. It has opted for fiscal prudence, reducing full-time staffing by 10 percent in the past decade and cutting salary and overall personnel costs. Administrative costs represent 8 percent of the total budget. Some services have been outsourced.
Portage County's developmentally disabled citizens have benefited greatly from Happy Day School and other programs overseen by the Board of Developmental Disabilities. Renewal of Issues 1 and 2 will enable these important services to continue.
Issue 3 is a 1-mill renewal levy that funds services provided for Portage County residents through the Mental Health & Recovery Board and its contract agencies. The 10-year levy, which first was passed in 1983, brings in $3 million annually. It costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $30 per year in property taxes.
The Mental Health & Recovery Board oversees important services to children and adults in Portage County through its network of contract agencies that include Coleman Professional Services, Townhall II, Children's Advantage and Family and Community Services. In 2012, 2,700 children and 4,500 adults received services.
Mental health issues affect not only those who face the challenge of dealing with them, but their families and the larger community as well. Having a strong network of services in place is important.
The Mental Health & Recovery Board has dealt with significant cuts in its state funding and responded prudently. The board traditionally has kept its administrative costs low and works closely with the contract agencies that provide services to clients.
Because Issues 1, 2 and 3 are renewal levies, property owners will continue to benefit from the property tax rollback that requires the state to pay 12.5 percent of the tax. They are not affected by the change in the rollback that was included in the current state budget.