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Voters approve two Ashtabula County levies

Star Beacon - 11/6/2019

Nov. 6--Two renewal levies were approved by voters during the Tuesday election which will continue funding for mental health services and the developmentally disabled.

Issue 1 a seven-year, 2-mill renewal levy that generates $2.6 million for the Board of Developmental Disabilities passed with 12,469 voting for the levy and 6,491 voting against, according to unofficial election results. First passed by voters in 1999, the levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home around $40 a year in tax, according to the county auditor's office.

Although the board is no longer the operator of Happy Hearts, which is now under the direction of the Educational Service Center, or Ash/Craft Industries, which is operated by a private entity, it still serves around 500 individuals by providing funds to their providers for the services they receive, and more than 125 more people are on a waiting list for services.

Despite the shift away from being a direct provider, the board is tasked with providing 40 percent of funding through local tax dollars for Medicaid waivers that pay for services disabled people receive. The federal government provides the other 60 percent.

Toni Scurpa, director of the Board of Developmental Disabilities, said she is thankful to voters.

"I want to thank the county voters for supporting our levy and understanding the important services we provide," she said.

Issue 2 is a 5-year, 0.6-mill renewal levy that generates just over $1 million annually. First passed by voters in 2015, the levy costs the owner of a $100,000 around $17.84 in annual tax. It passed with 12,662 voting for the levy and 6,299 voting against, according to unofficial election results from the Board of Elections.

The money generated through the levy is primarily used to provide matching funds for various grants that aid in behavioral and mental health services provided through other agencies such as the family and adult drug courts and adult probation departments, according to MHRS executive director Miriam Walton.

The levy money has also been instrumental in various public awareness campaigns regarding addiction and substance abuse, Walton said. The board is invested in helping people better themselves and get ahead, she said.

Reached by phone, Walton said voters deserve the thanks.

"We are tremendously grateful to the pubic for their support and continued confidence in the work of the board and the agencies that we fund," she said.


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