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Demand for Medina County human services grows; single levy sought

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Three Medina County human service agencies with growing needs said they are bringing their case for a single dedicated funding levy to the Medina County commissioners.

“We are bringing this request to the commissioners and our community because the need for all sorts of critical human services across the county is growing, but state and federal funding simply have not kept up,” Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Board Executive Director Phillip Titterington said in a statement.

“Our agencies work well together, and tackle many interconnected issues that can impact any family. By joining our efforts, we can help ensure mutual accountability and keep the number of levy requests to the public at a minimum.”

Leaders from the Medina County Office for Older Adults and Medina County Job and Family Services will join Titterington at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, when they will present a request for a 1-mill property tax levy for the November ballot.

Titterington first floated this idea for a joint levy following a February Medina County Opiate Task Force meeting. At that time, the particulars of the proposed levy were not worked out and the group had just hired a consultant to help walk through the steps of putting a levy on the ballot.

According to figures provided by Laura Toth, the Office for Older Adults’ executive director, a 1-mill property tax levy would generate approximately $5 million annually to fund services across all three agencies and cost taxpayers about $3 a month per $100,000 of property value.

Toth said she sees the levy as an essential step in preparing her agency for the “graying” of Medina County.

“Our senior population, those 65 and older, currently make up about 22 percent of county residents, but that will grow to about 31 percent over the next 10 years,” she said.

“We currently provide about 38,000 home-delivered meals and over 8,000 rides to seniors per year, but those are needs that are only going to grow with time.”

Job and Family Services said it has also seen drastic growth in service needs since 2012.

“The number of kids in foster care is up 48 percent, calls to child protective services are up 72 percent and child abuse and neglect investigations are up 112 percent,” Director Jeffery Felton said in a statement.

“I wish that were not the case, but it is the reality.

“The needs of the vulnerable are simply overwhelming the capacity of our dedicated staff.”

If passed, the three agencies will jointly use the funds to continue individual programming including maintaining and improving meal delivery for the homebound elderly and senior transportation programs; add caseworkers to keep pace with demand for elderly case management, Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services, and the Foster Care program; improveg crisis and suicide prevention, recovery housing, and peer support programs; and expand addiction and mental health treatment options in Brunswick, Wadsworth and Lodi.

Unlike every other Ohio county of a similar population, Medina has no dedicated local funding source for its human service organizations.

“We are coming to the commissioners and the voters because we feel it would be irresponsible to move into Medina County’s future unequipped to deal with the growing, critical needs of our oldest, youngest, and most-vulnerable citizens,” Titterington said.

“I don’t think anyone wants us to turn away kids and seniors in need because we lack capacity — or cede any ground in the battle against the addiction crisis.”

The joint levy would be a first as the ADAMH board attempted to pass a levy in 2015, but it was unsuccessful.

Titterington has said there are 54 ADAMH boards around the state.

Only four don’t have a levy, including Medina County, which uses other funding sources including an allocation from the county commissioners.

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