Thursday, July 13, 2000

Health agency seeks levy to meet demand

Recovery Services on ballot in Nov.

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The agency that helps battle mental illness and chemical dependence in Warren and Clinton counties needs more money to do its job, agency officials said Wednesday night.

        The 1-mill levy that Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton passed in 1986 has shrunk to collect the equivalent of just 0.56 mills today, Warren Auditor Nick Nelson said.

        Recovery Services' board decided to ask voters for a 1-mill replacement levy in November.

        Growth in the second-fastest-growing county in Ohio is straining the agency's staff and money, officials said.

        “We have great difficulty responding in a timely man ner” to clients' urgent but non-life threatening needs, said Bill Harper, executive director of Recovery Services.

        Many children, especially, aren't getting the help they need, another health official said.

        “I think this board has made great strides in providing a range of services to adults ... but I think we haven't been able to keep up with services for kids and families,” said David Lorenz, director of Community Health Centers of Warren County.

        He lent his support to Recovery Services' levy.

        Recovery Services now receives $2.1 million a year from its continuing levy. Even though the replacement levy would be the same millage, it would bring in $3.7 million.

        That's because homes built before the levy passed are still taxed at their 1986 value, while houses built recently are taxed closer to their true value, Mr. Harper said.

        “There is a bit of a fairness issue,” he said.

        The levy would cost $35 a year for the owner of a home valued at $100,000.

        The agency now serves 4,700 people a year. It would use the additional money to:

        • Add outpatient therapists to help people who are now on waiting lists.

        • Hire a child psychiatrist who would split his time between the two counties.

        • Offer specialized treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

        • Offer a summer program for emotionally disturbed children.

        • Start a sexual abuse treatment and prevention program.

        • Expand school-based mental health services.


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