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Mental health renewal on fall ballot

The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison counties will place a 1.65-mill renewal levy on the November ballot.

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 raises taxes.

The levy is needed because of the economy and a drop state funding from $4.2 million in 2008 to $518,000 this year, said board Finance Director Kevin Taylor.

Taylor said 81 percent of funding for the organization now comes from levy dollars.

Chief Executive Officer Kent Youngman said the cuts have forced the board to reduce its administrative costs by $550,000 or about 33 percent.

“We’ve cut ourselves to help offset the cuts and keep as much money in services as possible,” Youngman said. “We’re not asking for any more. What we’ve done is downsize ourselves.”

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

Taylor said the board serves about 12,000 people each year, including 7,500 clients in Clark County.

However, while the number of mental health clients remained steady, the number of those dependent on alcohol and drugs has dropped from 2,019 to 1,429, or about 30 percent, since 2009, officials said.

“That’s where the cuts really hit because there was no funding source to offset it,” Youngman said.

James Perry, the board’s levy chairman, said if legislators approve an expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law, the board could see an increase in funding.

Under the plan, about 366,000 Ohio residents would be covered under the state’s Medicaid program for the poor.

Gov. John Kasich said the plan made sense when he announced the proposed 2014-15 state budget, but Republicans in the Statehouse removed that from the budget and said they would consider it separately later.

“We have high hopes for Medicaid expansion. And it’s really a disappointment at this point in time, but hopefully by sticking in what the legislature did, they may be able to rescue some part of it or all of it,” Perry said.

“We’ve been wringing out costs for mental health services as best we can. For mental health services, our administrative overhead is 15 percent, but eventually we will hit a point of having no more to squeeze out,” Perry said.

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