December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Commissioners put 10-year mental health levy on November ballot

ELYRIA — Voters will decide a renewal levy to fund mental health services in Lorain County on the November ballot.

The Lorain County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday to place a 1.2-mill renewal levy on the upcoming ballot. The levy generates about $7.31 million a year, said Charles Neff, executive director of the county Board of Mental Health.

The levy represents 52 percent of the agency’s revenue stream, which is dwindling due to cuts in state and federal funding.

Originally passed in 1986, the levy has been a five-year levy. This time, it will be presented to voters as a 10-year levy to provide better stability and financial planning for the agency. When it was last passed in 2010, the support from voters was strong — it passed by a ratio of better than 2-to-1.

“In any given year, 25 percent of people experience a major mental health issue,” Neff said. “I tell people all the time if not now, then when. And if not you, then it could be your neighbor, co-worker or friend.”

The county Board of Mental Health uses its resources to contract with mental health providers so residents of Lorain County can receive services regardless of their ability to pay. All residents at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for possible free services, and all other patients use a co-pay schedule that all partner agencies apply equally.

“Services are generally prescribed as a once a week schedule for a set number of weeks,” Neff said. “Even co-pays of $30 a week can become burdensome for a lot of people. We offer help to families so they are not deterred by cost in seeking services.”

In 2013, 10,500 people were served, including 5,607 females and 4,893 males. Clients served included 3,602 under age 18 and 6,898 older than 18.

Agencies funded by the Board of Mental Health include Applewood Centers, Beech Brook, Bellefaire JCB, Far West Center, Firelands Counseling, The Nord Center, Ohio Guidestone, Pathways Counseling and Big Brothers Big Sisters, Catholic Charities, El Centro and Gathering Hope House.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

Mental health funding

WHAT IS IT: 1.2-mill renewal levy
HOW MUCH DOES IT RAISE: $7.31 million a year
HOW LONG IS IT: 10 years
WHAT DOES IT PAY FOR: Contract services with mental health providers so residents of Lorain County can receive services regardless of their ability to pay
WHAT DOES IT COST: The homeowner of a $100,000 home pays $36.74 a year