Mental health levy keeps taxes same

Clark County cut residential treatment, staff after funding reduced.

Clark County voters will be asked on Nov. 5 to approve a 1.65-mill renewal levy by the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison counties.

The 10-year levy will generate about $3.7 million annually and fund prevention and treatment services such as counseling, medication and case management for people with disabilities.

The levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $57.44 per year or $4.79 monthly. However, because it is a renewal levy, it will not increase taxes.

The mental health board serves people who have been diagnosed with conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar, depression and post-traumatic stress.

Chief Executive Officer Kent Youngman said the renewal levy is needed because of $1.5 million in state funding cuts for services in Clark County.

The loss of state funding prompted the board to eliminate residential treatment and cut its administrative staff by 5.5 positions or 33 percent at a cost of $550,000 at a time when the number of clients are growing.

“The number of folks receiving service has increased 75 percent of the last 10 years for mental health,” Youngman said.

Because of funding reductions, the number of clients treated for alcohol and drug addiction has dropped from 2,019 to 1,429, or about 30 percent, since 2009, he said.

“The demand has gone up, but because of the state cuts, we are serving fewer,” Youngman said.

The levy makes up 60 to 65 percent of local funding and will allow the board to continue with the same level of services.

“The increased demand means longer waiting times. We used to have residential treatment, and it’s now been replaced with outpatient treatment that is not as intensive,” Youngman said. “The levy does not correct that. It doesn’t increase our level of funding. It only continues our funding.”

The mental health board serves about 12,000 people each year, including 7,500 clients in Clark County.

The board provides funding for 13 contract agencies, including McKinley Hall, Elderly United and Project Woman.

Youngman said its important for residents to support the levy.

“Clark County has had a long history of having good mental health and alcohol and drug programs because folks in Clark County believe its important. We want to continue that and continue to reap the benefits,” Youngman said.

Dr. James Perry, the board’s levy chairman, agreed.

He said the funding enables agencies to help the community’s most vulnerable population in need and provide housing, job training and other services for the severely mentally ill.

“The quality of life of the community is determined by the care to the vulnerable, and people with mental illness are vulnerable,” Perry said.

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