Lucas County Children Services is asking voters to renew a five-year, 1-mill property tax levy, and to approve an added 0.85-mill tax. That plea, embodied in Issue 25 on this fall's county ballot, deserves a YES vote.
Levies provide 52 percent of Children Services' revenue and are critical to meeting the needs of children in Lucas County, says the agency's executive director, Dean Sparks. Tough economic times increase human needs, while people's ability to pay for them often diminishes. In such times, the services provided by this agency are even more critical.
The tax money would help protect Lucas County's most valuable asset. It would keep caseworkers who conduct investigations and coordinate services on the job to ensure that abused and neglected children are safe, whether they remain at home or are placed with a relative or foster parent.
Children Services also contracts with dozens of local community agencies to provide transportation, counseling, tutoring, mentoring, mental-health services, residential treatment, clothing, help for foster parents, drug treatment, parenting classes, and other services.
The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $56.66 for the new Children Services levy, an increase of $26.03 a year. If Issue 25 passes, the agency would receive an estimated $14.9 million a year, up from about $8 million it gets from its current levy. The money would not be collected until 2014.
Rejection of the millage, Mr. Sparks warns, would force large-scale layoffs, dramatically reduce services, and put thousands of children at risk. The larger millage is needed, he says, because of decreasing local property values, increasing needs, the rising cost of services, and cuts in state and federal funding.
Lucas County Children Services has lowered millage rates twice in the past decade. Voters approved the agency's other five-year, 1.4 mill levy last year. The new levy would bring the agency's total tax rate to 3.25 mills, less than the 3.5 mills it collected from 1999 to 2001.
Even in tough times -- especially in tough times -- the safety of abused and neglected children must remain this community's highest priority. Vote YES on Issue 25.