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Published: Saturday, 10/30/2004

Lucas County: More funding sought as local caseload increases

The Lucas County Mental Health Board helps fund mental health care for thousands of county residents, but members say they need voter help to pay for the growing demand on its resources.

The board is seeking a 10-year, 0.5-mill replacement levy Tuesday that would bring in $4.4 million annually, a net increase of $1.9 million over the existing levy. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $15.31 a year. The current levy, which expires next year, costs the owner of a $100,000 house $8.29 annually.

Four years ago, the board funded services for 11,729 clients. But a poor economy and growing number of residents without health insurance have sparked a 27 percent increase in those getting help, with 14,881 people currently receiving some assistance from the board.

Jackie Martin, executive director for the board, said the replacement levy would not pay for new programming, only to maintain as much of the board's existing programs as possible.

"We're on a maintenance budget, and it's shaky at best. We are not looking at growth," Ms. Martin said.

Even if the levy is approved, it's likely the board would be faced with some cuts because of increasing demand and uncertain state funding, said Michael Dansack, a Toledo attorney and president of the board.

Other sources of income for the agency include a 1-mill operating levy that is set to expire in 2008.

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