Portage County – Portage County residents have several county level agencies which provide health services that improve the quality of life for individuals, families and our communities as a whole. The differences among these agencies are distinct but at times the similarity in our names leave voters thinking to themselves, “Didn’t I just vote on that issue?”
The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County has the responsibility for the entire county to provide public mental health and addiction services. The board has taken on the important task of providing Portage County with 24-hour crisis services that help families, law enforcement and other social service agencies that need 24-hour coverage for the people they serve.
The system of mental health and recovery services is mostly supported by Portage County residents through a local levy, Issue 3, which is up for renewal on the November ballot. The funds are administered by the Mental Health & Recovery Board, which has 18 volunteers representing the county’s villages, townships and cities.
This article includes basic questions about Issue 3, the services it provides and how it is administered. For more information, please call the Mental Health & Recovery Board at 330-678-1756.
Frequently Asked Questions about Issue 3
What is renewal Issue 3?
Issue 3 is a 1-mill levy that generates funds to provide mental health and addiction treatment, crisis services, education and suicide prevention services for only Portage County residents. A renewal levy continues a levy that was passed in a previous year. Issue 3 was originally passed in 1983.
Will Issue 3 increase my property taxes?
No. Issue 3 is a renewal levy. It will not increase taxes. Portage County voters have generously supported the issue since 1983 which has made possible treatment, education and crisis services for thousands of Portage County citizens. It will be renewed for another 10 years.
What will Issue 3 cost me?
The levy will stay the same at $2.50 per month for the owner of a house valued at $100,000.
Is there an increase because of the elimination of the property tax rollback?
No. The rollback is still in effect for renewal issues so your cost stays the same for Issue 3.
How do individuals, families and communities benefit from services funded by Issue 3?
• SAFE COMMUNITIES Residents in crisis including at risk for suicide can access 24-hour crisis, information and referral services funded by the levy. There were more than 41,000 contacts last year.
• HEALTHY CHILDREN AND TEENS Children can grow up to have the best life possible when mental health issues, including sexual/physical abuse, are taken care of early through services funded by Issue 3.
• SERVICES TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS Students are better able to learn and be successful in school. More than 600 students were screened through a program funded by the levy at schools in 2012 with 54% referred for services.
• CARING FOR OUR VETERANS Voting yes provides levy funding for mental health and addiction treatment to veterans and their families in Portage County.
• SERVICES HELP WORKERS AND BUSINESSES Working adults have access to
services funded by Issue 3 so they can remain on-the-job. Employees and families benefit; businesses maintain a productive work force; and communities prosper.
• QUALITY OF COMMUNITY LIFE Community life is improved for everyone because levy funds ensure that residents with limited incomes have access to affordable mental health and addiction treatment. Individuals and families pay what they can afford on a sliding scale.
• REDUCING RISKS Family life is improved when youth receive education to reduce the risk of addiction and sexual abuse. Levy funds helped make prevention available to more than 4,000 youth in 2012.
• COMMUNITY NEEDS AFTER DISASTER Voting yes provides levy funding that means the county will be able to respond to mental health and addiction issues in communities after a disaster or a crisis.
• TRAINING FOR SAFETY FORCES Safety personnel and teachers are safer and have more tools to help persons in crisis because levy funds support special Crisis Intervention Team training. They learn skills to stay safe on the job, while ensuring the person with mental illness is safe and receives appropriate services.
How have local services been reduced after state cutbacks?
Due to budget cuts, 12% fewer adults were served in 2012 and 6% fewer children and teens. Since 2008, the state has cut Portage County mental health and addiction services annually by $2.2 million. The Mental Health & Recovery Board, which allocates the funds for services provided through local agencies, has been using its reserves since then to maintain care. Now that the reserves are at a minimum, there is less funding for services to residents.
How many residents received services last year?
7,200 Portage County residents received services; 4,500 adults and 2,700 children and teens. The levy helped fund crisis services that handled more than 41,000 contacts for crises, information and referrals.
How much money is generated by Issue 3?
Issue 3 brings in $3 million annually from all property tax payers in Portage County. It makes up 50 percent of the annual budget for local services. Other funding comes from the state and federal governments and another 0.8 mills in local property taxes approved in the 1970s. There have not been any new levies since 1983.
Who oversees the spending of the Renew I Renewal Levy?
The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County allocates funds as required by the State of Ohio. The board has chosen to keep its membership at 18 to allow more citizens from the county’s cities, villages and townships to participate in the decision-making. There are four full-time and one part-time staff. The MHRB meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at 155 E. Main St., Kent. You can contact the Board at 330-673-1756. All meetings are open to the public. The Board’s website is www.mental-health-recovery.org.You can find the Mental Health & Recovery Board on Facebook.
Where does the Mental Health & Recovery Board fund services?
The Mental Health & Recovery Board allocates funds through contracts with local community agencies whose staff work with residents. Those agencies are:
• Coleman Professional Services
• Townhall II
• Children’s Advantage
• Family & Community Services
Families and individuals pay what they can afford according to a sliding fee scale.
Where can I learn more about the levy?
The Renew Issue 3 campaign website is at www.mhrlevy.org. You can download a fact sheet there and see endorsements. The campaign also has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MhrLevy. You can follow the campaign on Twitter @MHRLevy. The campaign is overseen by the Citizens Committee for Good Mental Health, David Brokaw, Treasurer, 155 E. Main St., Kent Oh 44240. You can email the levy at firstname.lastname@example.org.