A levy supporting Scioto County Children’s Services passed last November, replacing the former levy with a new one that doubled the budget for the agency.
The ballot 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 passage, Committee for the Kids, the previous levy had Children’s Services operating budget at $3.2 million, but placement costs for the year are $5.8 million. The levy will now fully cover the placement costs of 363 children in county care.
The agency claimed that caseworkers were unable to give the appropriate attention to each situation, due to the overwhelming volume of cases, and the lack of funding was jeopardizing the safety of children. The group explained that staffing will need to be 3-4 times what it is to handle the children in their protective custody.
Committee members included Scottie Powell, Cathy Coleman, Bryan Davis, Kevin Johnson, Pat Ciraso, Donna Cunningham, Gary Jenkins, Heidi Riepenhoff, Tammy Moore Morton, Ryan Scheisser, and Audrey Schiesser.
CPS has also combined with the Jobs and Family Services office, which has been a productive move that reduced overhead cost of maintaining two buildings and streamlined the the process to get the children into new homes faster.
“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 adults. Our current funding is grossly inadequate,” Commissioner Bryan Davis said to the Times prior to the vote. “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.
Executive Director Scioto County Dept. of Job & Family Services, Tammy Moore Morton stated that work is already being done to help get things under control
“I would like to thank the public for voting to pass the levy in November. That was essential in moving the Children Services Agency forward. We won’t see any of that funding until later this year, but we can move forward with planning initiatives now. We have been very busy working on the infrastructure of the department. I believe it is important to make sure the community is aware of what we are doing to improve services and where their money will eventually be spent.”
Moore also explained that while the numbers are still high, things are beginning to look up as far as the amount of children that they have in their care, “There are 351 children in our care as of today. This number fluctuates, but remains high. However, we do see progress in the reduction from July 2022 at 407, when the merger took place. This is a result of the 2 attorneys designated by the Prosecutor’s office to work solely on Children Services cases. While the process through the judicial system can be slow, the processing time of CPS cases has improved. Additionally, monthly meetings of the Special Victims Unit has allowed these special cases to move quicker than in the past because law enforcement, Prosecutor’s office, and CPS caseworkers are sitting in the same room discussing these sensitive cases and making informed decisions more quickly than has ever been before.”