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Hamilton Co. commissioners approve 3 tax levies for the November ballot

Vote, Board of Elections, Hamilton County
Ambriehl Crutchfield

Hamilton County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve three tax levies for the November ballot. Voters will decide on renewing two levies at the current millage: indigent care and senior services. The third, for mental health services, will be up for an increase.

Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas says the need for mental health care is clear.

"And what's important is we only make the recommendation to go forward for it to be voted on, we don't make the decision," she said. "So if the people decide, 'I don't want to increase, I'm not in agreement,' then they don't have to vote for it."

Commissioners heard public comment last month about all three levy renewals and which should be on the ballot. Commissioners followed the recommendations of the Tax Levy Review Committee, which spent six months reviewing each plan in-depth.

If voters approve the increase, it will cost homeowners about $13 more a year per $100,000 of home value; the levy would generate about $45 million annually.

"It's not an extravagant increase," said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. "But it is enough to maintain what we have and add on at a time when we know mental health needs are skyrocketing in this community."

The levy was first approved about 40 years ago and was last increased in 2008.

The election is Nov. 8. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 11.

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.