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Published: Monday, 6/16/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

3 Lucas Co. agencies seek levy approvals

Children Services hopes to get additional millage

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lucas County Children Services case workers Christina DeSilvis, left, and Danielle Stroble with the Child Abuse flag. Lucas County Children Services case workers Christina DeSilvis, left, and Danielle Stroble with the Child Abuse flag.
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With a 1.4-mill levy not set to expire for another two years, Lucas County Children Services hopes to replace the issue on the November ballot and ask for additional millage.

Children Services and two other county agencies are on the agenda for today’s meeting of the Lucas County Levy Review Committee to have money issues approved for the Nov. 4 general election.

The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio is seeking renewal of a five-year, 0.45-mill levy and approval of an additional 0.6-mill. Mental Health and Recovery Services Board is asking for renewal of a 10-year, 0.5-mill levy. Both property taxes will expire this year.

The Children Services board has approved replacing a five-year, 1.4-mill levy that is set to expire in 2016 with a seven-year, 1.9-mill issue. It would collect about $13.3 million a year.

If the 1.9-mill request is approved, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $66.50 more a year in taxes, or an increase of $23.63 from the existing 1.4-mill issue.

Dean Sparks, the agency’s executive director, said the additional millage is being sought because of declines in federal and state funding and tax collections from lowered property revaluations.

“Our revenue has been significantly reduced in all areas,” he said. “There are things that we could not have anticipated.”

The agency, he said, has shown fiscal responsibility to taxpayers by annually cutting expenses to reach this year’s budget of $40 million, which is $6.7 million less than what was spent in 2007, and reducing reserves from more than $30 million a few years ago to the current $1.3 million fund balance.

Still, Mr. Sparks said he expects to get scrutinized with tough questions from the levy review committee about why the agency is going on the ballot two years early and asking for additional millage.

“Yes. I hope that they will ask all the hard questions. They are really pretty good at that. That has been my experience with them. They ask the hard questions as they should,” he said.

The meeting is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. today at the Lucas County EMT Training Center, 2127 Jefferson St.

Children Services last went to the ballot in November, 2012, when voters renewed a 1-mill levy plus a new, 0.85-mill tax. The five- year issue, which expires at the end of 2018, generates nearly $13 million annually.

The nine-member levy review committee was established by the county commissioners in 2005 to study proposed countywide tax levies, make thorough reviews, and make recommendations to the commissioners. It represents a diverse group and includes members from labor, finance, business, and nonprofit organizations.

County Commissioner Pete Gerken said the levy review committee was created to provide input on tax levy situations like the one being presented by Children Services.

“The levy review committee came together for exactly these kind of circumstances. We knew we could serve the public better if it just wasn’t the three commissioners making decisions on the levies,” he said. “This particular one may not be easy. It may be a tough one.”

The Area Office on Aging is seeking to replace a tax issue that was last approved in 2009. The renewal and additional 0.6-mills would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $19 annually, or about $5 more a year.

The mental health tax request, which was last renewed in 2004, costs the owner of a $100,000 home $15.31 a year.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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