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3 tax levy renewals may be on Hamilton Co.'s ballot this year. Here's what you should know

Bill Rinehart

Three Hamilton County tax levies could be on the November ballot this year.

The Tax Levy Review Committeespent the last six months analyzing levies set to expire this year. Gwen McFarlin is chair.

“We stayed focused as much as we could on the mission, which is to create a balance between the needs for funding for the various agency levies, and at the same time, making sure that we did not put an unnecessary burden on the home and the business owners in our community,” McFarlin said.

TLRC is recommending the Mental Health Services levy for an increase this year. Edward Herzig, chair of the TLRC Mental Health subcommittee, says keeping the levy at the current rate wouldn’t bring in enough money to maintain services.

“You would probably have to pick and choose where to make the cuts, and take a look at what the services are,” Herzig told county commissioners. “Some of the smaller agencies that are providing services depend upon levy monies for most of their income, as opposed to some of the large agencies.”

The proposed increase would add about $13 in annual property tax for every $100,000 in property value.

The committee is recommending two other levies be renewed at the same level: Indigent Care and Senior Services.

Hamilton County Commissioners will have a few public meetings this month, to be announced. They’ll decide in early August what to put on the November ballot.

Mental Health Services

In place since: 1980 ballot (effective in 1981)

Last increase: 2007 ballot (effective in 2008)

Current millage: 2.99 ($40.93 per $100,000 in value)

Recommendation: Renew with increase for 2023-2027 to generate $44.9 million annually (compared to $36.5 million annually at current millage). That means a $13.30 increase per $100,000 of home value, for a total $54.23 per $100,000 of home value.

What it covers: Services to adults and children who are mentally disabled and/or are addicted to alcohol and drugs. Services include mental health and addiction treatment, housing, employment, vocational help, and court assistance. It includes contracts with 25 behavioral health organizations and County departments.

Indigent Care

In place since: 1966 ballot (effective in 1967)

Last increase: 2001 ballot (effective in 2002)

Current millage: 4.07 ($42.41 per $100,000 in value)

Recommendation: Renew at current millage for 2023 to 2027 (generates about $41 million annually)

What it covers: Health care services to the indigent population, which includes those who are uninsured, underinsured, institutionalized, or incarcerated. The levy provides about 30% of the cost to run health care services at five homeless shelters, and helps fund the St. Vincent de Paul charitable pharmacies. The levy also covers several public health programs:

  • Tuberculosis Control: State-mandated program that provides TB skin tests for employment and immigration services. Chest X-rays and pharmacy services are also provided.
  • SAFE Program: Community-based framework to reduce negative consequences of drug use by providing stigma-free access to harm reduction services, supplies and testing.
  • Oral Care Initiative: Created in 2017 to work toward decreasing oral health disparities, increase residents’ access to care, and ensure all an equitable opportunity for optimal oral health.

Senior Services

In place since: 1992 ballot (effective in 1993)

Last increase: 2017 ballot (effective in 2018)

Current millage: 1.60 ($33.97 in tax per $100,000 in value)

Recommendation: Renew at current millage rate for 2023-2027 (generates about $27 million annually)

What it covers: The Elderly Services Program to help seniors remain living in their homes; Adult Protective Services provided by Jobs & Family Services; veteran-focused services; outreach and services for unstably and unhoused seniors; navigation services for seniors unable to negotiate existing state system to access providers; home-health care support for African American families.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.