News Column

Children services board seeks to have levies combined

June 25, 2014

By Peter H. Milliken, Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio



June 25--YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Children Services Board has voted to ask the county commissioners to combine and replace its current 1-mill and 0.85-mill real-estate tax levies that expire this year, with a 1.85-mill, five-year levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The 1-mill levy, first passed in 1995, brings in $2,993,453 annually, and the 0.85-mill levy, first passed in 1976, delivers $1,531,679 a year, for a current combined total of $4,525,132 annually.

However, the combined 1.85-mill replacement would bring in $7,303,723 annually, said Randall Muth, executive director of the child welfare agency.

The motion was passed Tuesday by the children services board.

The combining of the two levies into a replacement based on today's property values raises more money than the two current levies combined because levy revenues are based on property values at their initiation; and today's property values are higher than when the current levies were initiated, Muth explained.

The agency needs the extra local money from the combined replacement in the long term to compensate for declines in state and federal funding, Muth said.

State revenues have fallen 13.71 percent since 2011, and federal revenues have dropped 4.72 percent since then, he said.

About half of the agency's funding comes from local real-estate tax levies, he added.

Total county CSB expenditures have dropped from $14,182,806 in 2011 to $13,215,300 in 2012 and $11,889,922 last year as the agency has reduced staff through nonreplacement of employees who resigned or retired and reduced costly residential placements, such as admissions of children to psychiatric hospitals, Muth explained.

"We have already cut our spending by 16 percent [since 2011]. The problem is that we can't go much lower on that without putting kids at risk," Muth said.

CSB decided in a special meeting to follow the recommendation of county Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti that it keep its future options open by leaving intact its third local real-estate tax levy, the 0.50-mill measure, first passed in 1983, that brings in $1,239,856 annually and expires in 2017.

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Source: Vindicator (Youngstown, OH)