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Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
By William Kincaid
Children's services levy passes
DD levy renewed
  CELINA - Mercer County voters on Election Day approved a new Department of Job and Family Services tax levy to help pay for operating and capital improvement expenditures to support children's services.
They also voted to renew the county Board of Developmental Disabilities' operating levy.
The Department of Job and Family Services' 0.4-mill, 10-year levy passed with 58.76 percent or 12,116 votes. It was opposed by 8,531 voters.
The levy will generate $438,969 annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $14 a year, according to Mercer County Auditor Randy Grapner.
Citing an alarming spike in the number of dysfunctional families in the county, Mercer County Job and Family Services Director Angela Nickell and social service administrator Jason Cupp recently made their case for a levy to finance enhanced children's services as well as building improvements.
Job and Family Services intervenes in households when contacted about concerns of abuse and/or neglect of children. Sometimes children are assigned to kinship care with a relative or family friend, foster care or a residential center until they can be reunited with their biological parents.
"I'm so pleased that the people of Mercer County saw the need and (I'm) not surprised that they would come and assist the children like they have, but I'm very grateful," Nickell said. "(I'm) really proud of my co-workers and all the work that they did on it. I'm thrilled because we can do some good with this."
The top priority of the new revenue will be to cover placement-related costs, Nickell said.
"We never want to make a decision that is based on the expense of the placement so we're going to look for some good placement for the children that we have," Nickell said. "We have a lot of kinship care - supporting those families a little better than we have been able to because they're taking in these children and they're not prepared for that kind of expense."
The county Board of Developmental Disabilities' six-year 2.42-mill operating levy overwhelmingly passed with 70.05 percent or 14,674 votes. It was opposed by 6,274 voters.
The levy, originally passed in 2005, will continue to bring in about $1.8 million annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $48 a year, said Grapner.
Board members sought to renew the levy for "developmental disabilities programs and services and for the acquisition, construction, renovation, financing, maintenance and operation of developmental disabilities facilities."
The board was created by Ohio law in 1967. Each county has such an agency that secures local levy dollars to serve children and adults with disabilities. Each year, it helps support as many as 150 adults, 150 school-aged children and another 120 children through early intervention.
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