The Lake County Commissioners agreed to place a .7 mill renewal and a .4 mill increase Children Services Levy on the November 7th ballot. There will Here is the official press release.
Rather than vote strictly on emotion, I wanted some facts and figures that would help me decide whether of not to support it.
Please note that the press release stated that the current levy generates approximately $3.5 million, but there has been a 26% increase in the cost of caring for the children in need.
In reviewing the statistics provided by the Lake County Auditor’s office, I saw that a .7 mill levy collected $367,685.72 from Concord residents and, therefore a 1.1 mill levy should collect about $577,800, an increase of $210,114 or 57.15%.
If a .7 mill levy collected $3.5 million from Lake County residents, then a 1.1 mill levy should collect ~ $5.5 million, an increase of $2 million or 57.15%.
It should be noted that the renewal levy is subject to rollbacks (a 12.5% credit that is reimbursed by the State of Ohio), but the additional .4 mill increase is borne completed by the taxpayers.
After asking a Lake County Commissioner questions on the levy I was referred to the Matt Battiato, Director of Lake County Job and Family Services. Here is his response:
“….I appreciate your interest in the levy and I am glad to clarify any questions you may have. You refer to the press release regarding the 26% increase in the cost of caring for children place into our custody. This is just one area that I addressed regarding the need for a Levy because the increase is so significant. Levy dollars are also utilized for many other costs associated with providing child protective services including paying adoption subsidies who adopt children previously in our custody; paying for costs associate with educating children in our custody; covering a portion of staff costs; building costs; supplies, etc.”
“I am sure you also saw that the revenue generated from the levy has decreased by $450,000 since it was passed in 2008 and that we have received flat funding from the State for children services since 2010. So our revenue streams have decreased or remained flat, yet our costs have continued to increase. We have reduced our staff in children services by 8% since 2010, but costs we cannot control, such as increased cost of health insurance, supplies, the number of children placed into custody, building maintenance costs, etc. have impacted children services to the point where we have been dipping into our reserves to the tune of $1.2 million dollars a year the past several years and our reserves are depleted.”
“We have completed extensive analysis and have projected our revenues and costs moving forward and have determined that an additional .4 mil in levy revenue will allow us to continue to provide the quality child protective services that Lake County deserves and that it will sustain us for the next ten years”.
“It is not as simple as looking at the increased cost related to children in our custody and relating that one variable to the need for additional revenue the levy will produce.”
My opinion – Mr. Matthew Battiato is a dedicated public servant wanting only the best for the children of our community. Mr. Battiato did offer to show me their projections of future expenditures versus projected revenue.
Regarding how to vote on the levy, that is up to the residents of Lake County to decide. We just try to shine the light of truth on the subject.