A levy will be on the ballot this November to replace an existing levy with a new one, in order to improve programming for local Children Services.
The ballot will read:
“A replacement of 1 mill of an existing levy and an increase of 2 mills to constitute a tax for the benefit of Scioto County Children Services for the purpose of the support of the children services and for the care and placement of abused, neglected and dependent children in Scioto County, Ohio at a rate not exceeding 3 mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to $0.30 for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for 10 years, commencing in 2022, first due in calendar year 2023.”
The levy will play out differently for people, depending on the assessed value of their home.
For a home with an auditor appraisal of $50,000, at an assessment rate of 35 percent, the current gross tax is $16.04 at .92 mill. That would increase to $36.46 at 2.1 mill.
For a home with an auditor appraisal of $100,000, at an assessment rate of 35 percent, the current gross tax is $32.09 at .92 mill. That would increase to $72.91 at 2.1 mill.
For a home with an auditor appraisal of $150,000, at an assessment rate of 35 percent, the current gross tax is $48.13 at .92 mill. That would increase to $109.37 at 2.1 mill.
For a home with an auditor appraisal of $200,000, at an assessment rate of 35 percent, the current gross tax is $64.18 at .92 mill. That would increase to $145.82 at 2.1 mill
According to the group advocating for the passage, Committee for the Kids, the Children’s Services operating budget is $3.2 million. Placement costs for the year are $5.8 million. The levy would cover the placement costs of 363 children in county care.
“The levy money would go to the placement costs of the current children in care,” a release read. “Our agency is funded to handle approximately 100 children in care. We currently have 363 children in care, down from nearly 400 earlier this year.”
According to the Committee for the Kids, “The caseworkers are unable to give the appropriate attention to each case due to the overwhelming volume of cases. This jeopardizes the safety of children. Our staff size needs to be 3-4 times what it is to appropriately handle the number of children in protective custody.”
Committee members include Scottie Powell, Cathy Coleman, Bryan Davis, Kevin Johnson, Pat Ciraso, Donna Cunningham, Gary Jenkins, Heidi Riepenhoff, Tammy Moore Morton, Ryan Scheisser, Audrey Schiesser.
The passage of the levy is being advocated for by bipartisan support, with both Democrat and Republican parties supporting the measure.
“Scioto County is experiencing unprecedented numbers in children being placed in protective custody. This is due to children living in unacceptable conditions, mainly due to the incompetence of adult caregivers. Our current funding is grossly inadequate,” Commissioner Bryan Davis said. “Our current levy is sufficient for around 115-120 kids. We have over 350 in custody currently. Our costs to house children last year exceeded $5 million.”
Davis explained that steps have been made to improve on the agency, but funding is still a necessary burden.
“We have taken steps to streamline CPS by combining the two agencies (JFS and CPS), consolidating operations into 1 building, reducing overhead costs, and strengthened our legal process in order to get children a permanent custody position faster,” Davis said. “We are fully supporting our Prosecutors office in this endeavor. Many processes are being streamlined and communication improved. But even with these changes, it’s not enough.”
A new tax may not be ideal for Davis, but he says it is necessary.
“I don’t like new taxes, I don’t think anyone does. If there was a way to overcome the deficit without additional funding, the administration would have found it. They need time and resources to fix all the issues. It will take time, but they are well on their way,” Davis said. “My hope is we get the numbers down, and we can get to a more manageable level of support for the most vulnerable in our community. It will take fighting on multiple fronts to do so. We must reduce the numbers of addicted adults in our community. You can’t reduce a problem by adding to it. Through prevention education in our schools and abstinence, we can see this happen.
On the Democrat side, Commissioner-hopeful Josh Lawson is advocating for the passage.
“I support the levy not because it is ideal and because I want to pay additional taxes,” Lawson said. “I don’t think anyone wants to pay additional, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, but I know the local Democratic party has supported it fully. We have to do what it takes to take care of our kids. They’re the most vulnerable of anybody.”
Lawson explained that the current situation is a crisis and that current fixes aren’t lasting, which is why he supports the tax.
“The commissioners, essentially this past year gave them a bailout, because they didn’t have enough money to foot the bill,” Lawson said. “Fortunately, they were able to do that because they had additional money on hand from the government, but that money will not be there in the future.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved