County worried about taxpayer fatigue impact on levy

Tom Clemons talks with county commissioners during meeting last year.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

Concern about taxpayer fatigue has led to a request that the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board reconsider its proposed levy.

The Wood County Commissioners have asked the board to consider other options for its November ballot issue.

“We just want to make sure that what they put on the ballot, people will be in favor of,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said on Wednesday. “Our concern is – what if it doesn’t pass?”

The ADAMHS board had asked that a 1.3-mill replacement levy be place on the ballot. In order for the issue to appear before the voters, the county commissioners have to certify the need for the levy millage.

Last month, Tom Clemons, the executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, made his pitch to the county commissioners for the agency’s levy request.

At that point, Herringshaw said that the commissioners had to discuss the levy request.

“We want to make sure it is the right fit for Wood County and for the ADAMHS board,” Herringshaw said.

The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The levy replacement plus addition of 0.3 mills would bring in an additional $1.3 million.

According to a letter from Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar to Clemons, the commissioners aren’t rejecting the request for the 1.3-mill levy. However, they would like the ADAMHS Board to consider other options.

Those options, according to the letter, plus the original request are:

  • 1.3-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $45.50 a year.
  • 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year.
  • Replacement levy at an amount between 1 mill and 1.3 mills for 10 years.
  • Two separate levies, with one being a 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, plus a new levy of 0.3 mills for five years. That lower levy would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $10.50 annually. If the opiate crisis is still creating a big demand for services after five years, the ADAMHS Board can put that small levy back on the ballot, the letter stated.

Clemons said the additional funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services.

At the same time as seeing rising costs for services, ADAMHS is also seeing a drop in help from the state and federal government. A decade ago, state and federal money made up 60 percent of the ADAMHS budget. Now the local levy dollars have to bear the burden of 75 percent of the budget.

“We have made prudent reductions in our budgets,” he said. “We are conscientious about using taxpayer dollars.”

The commissioners and Clemons will meet later this month to discuss the levy options.

print