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Smart Voter
Hamilton County, OH November 8, 2011 Election
Issue 38
Proposed Tax Levy (Renewal)
County of Hamilton

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 166,190 / 70.72% Yes votes ...... 68,796 / 29.28% No votes

See Also: Index of all Issues

Information shown below: Impartial Analysis |

A renewal of a tax for the benefit of the County of Hamilton, Ohio, for the purpose of SUPPLEMENTING THE GENERAL FUND TO PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN SERVICES AND THE CARE AND PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN at a rate not exceeding two and seventy-seven hundredths (2.77) mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to twenty- seven and seven tenths cents ($0.277) for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for five (5) years, commencing in 2011, first due in calendar year 2012.

Impartial Analysis from League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area
EXPLANATION: This proposed five-year levy is a renewal of the Children's Services levy, a property tax levy of 2.77 mills passed in November, 2001. The Children's Services levy was approved for a flat millage amount. Due to reductions in state reimbursements, this levy will bring in roughly $2 million less in 2012 + 2016 than it did during the current levy cycle (even though millage is unchanged). If approved, the owner of $100,000 home would pay about $51 a year, about the same as currently being paid. The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) placed the levy on the ballot after a review by the Tax Levy Review Committee (TLRC).

WHAT WILL THE LEVY DO: This levy will provide approximately $39 million annually for Federal and State mandated services to children through Hamilton County Children's Services (HCCS), a division of Hamilton County Job and Family Services (HCJFS). The HCCS is the local organization legally responsible for taking reports of child abuse, neglect, and dependency. Following investigation of those reports, the agency acts to protect children. Key services of the HCCS include: operation of 241-KIDS, Hamilton County's 24-hour tele-phone line for reporting suspected abuse and neglect and investigation of allegations and transferal of cases to Family Services. Family Services involves families in making decisions affecting their children with support of community partners and provides services to help support families including emergency housing and parenting training and referrals to other community partners for services such as mental health counseling or substance abuse treatment. Children who cannot be safe in their homes are placed in temporary care with relatives, foster parents or institutional settings. HCCS seeks protective, temporary or permanent custody of children through Juvenile Court and promotes recruitment of foster and adoptive families. Children are prepared for adoption and arrangements are made for post-adoption services to families. Training in independent living skills is provided for older teens.

In addition, the levy will also finance the County's state mandated funding for the Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH). BCMH is a tax-supported health care program in the Ohio Department of Health. BCHM serves children with special health care needs and their families by co- ordinating systems to obtain comprehensive care and services that are family-centered, community- based, and culturally competent. Eligibility for the program is based on a percentage of Federal poverty guidelines. By state law (ORC 3701.024), BCMH can draw 0.1 mills of a county's real estate taxes to pay for treatment services provided to children residing in Hamilton County. This means that Hamilton County is billed for the cost of services provided to children residing in the County up to a maximum of 0.1 mill of the County's real estate tax value. This amount is based on the Ohio Revised Code and has a maximum annual reimbursement of around $2 million. The BCMH payment was in the Children's Services levy in the past, but moved to Indigent Care during the last levy cycle. It is being returned to Children's Services in the next levy cycle.

BACKGROUND: Ohio law requires the county to provide services to children and families who are affected by abuse, neglect, or dependency. HCCS is a division of HCJFS. The Children's Services Levy was first established in 1986 by a 1.42 mill levy with subsequent approvals by voters for consecutive five-year periods. If the funds needed to meet these obligations are not provided by the Children's Services Levy, they must come from the County's General Fund. The local funds generated by the Children's Services Levy are matched with state and federal dollars and also used to pay third parties to provide contract services in the care of children in Hamilton County.

TAX LEVY REVIEW COMMITTEE (TLRC ) RECOMMENDATIONS: The funding provided by the Children's Services Levy has been held level for many years. The budgeted levy revenue for 2011 was $40,851,322. Based on its review, the TLRC recommended the amount of the levy funds be held at that same amount over the coming levy cycle.

The TLRC recommended that HCCS spend up to $750,000 to deploy technology to increase the productivity of HCCS, to consider co-locating the Family Law Division of the Prosecutor's Office within HCCS, and to assess 241-Kids for Use of Best Practice and Potential Improvements. The HCCS should maintain an appropriate reserve of levy funds to address an unresolved State of Ohio audit and then adjust the levy as appropriate in mid-cycle once the audit is resolved. The TLRC also recommended that HCCS create a pool of five to ten million dollars in levy funds to allow HCCS and its contract partners to provide wrap around services that prevent abuse and neglect that leads to more costly custody of these children.

  Official Information

Hamilton County Auditor

  • What will this levy cost me? - Information from the Auditor is available for all proposed tax levies in Hamilton County. Go to the website to find your property information. Then click on "Levy Info" on the left side of the page.
Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee Board of Elections
  • Am I registered? - Check the Hamilton County Board of Election to see if you're registered to vote.
Nonpartisan Information

League of Women Voters

News and Analysis

Local 12 Newsmakers

Google News Search Cincinnati Enquirer General Links

Citizens for Children's Services

Agencies to receive levy funds
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Created: January 20, 2012 12:04 PST
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