Mahoning County CSB, WRTA issues OK’d
By Justin Wier
Voters approved a measure to support the Mahoning County Children Services Board by a clear margin, with two-thirds of voters opting to pass the five-year replacement levy.
“The voters spoke decisively in support of children, who become the invisible, vulnerable and voiceless victims of circumstances beyond their control as their parents suffer from drug addiction,” said Randall Muth, executive director of Children Services.
The five-year replacement levy will assess the existing half-mill, real-estate tax levy at current property values instead of 1983 values, when voters initially approved the measure.
It passed with 38,960 votes for and 19,939 votes against.
The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $17.50 annually compared with $10.15 at previously used property values.
This will increase the levy’s revenue from $1.3 million to $2 million.
Muth said the opioid epidemic has increased both the number and complexity of the agency’s cases.
The agency experienced a 33.7 percent increase in child-abuse and neglect investigations from 833 in the first half of 2016 to 1,114 in the first half of 2017, and a 70 percent increase in children placed outside their homes from 27 to 46.
Voters also renewed the Western Reserve Transit Authority’s quarter percent sales tax on a continuing basis, with about 60 percent of voters opting to approve the tax.
The tax has been in place since voters first approved it in 2008.
If a consumer purchased a $10,000 car in Mahoning County, the measure would add $25 in taxes.
In 2016, the sales-tax revenue brought in $8.7 million of the agency’s $12 million budget.
Executive Director Jim Ferraro thanked the county for supporting the measure.
“I’m thankful for the support that they gave us, and we’re going to keep all of our promises,” Ferarro said. “This is something we were concerned with, moving from a five-year issue to a continuing levy.”
The tax, which passed with 34,958 votes in its favor and 24,028 against, provides local matching funding that allows WRTA to receive state and federal funds.
While federal funds have remained stable, Ferraro said state contributions have declined.
WRTA provides about 1.6 million rides per year, and about 40 percent are seniors or residents with disabilities. The agency expects that number to grow as the median age in the county continues to increase.
Boardman voters approved three levies, including a 2.2-mill police and fire levy that generates $2 million annually.
Voters first approved the levy in 2008 which costs the owner of a $100,000 home $77 annually.
Two school district levies – a 5.9-mill operating levy that generates $4.9 million annually and a 1.6-mill, permanent-improvement levy that generates $1.3 million annually – also were approved.
The operating levy first passed in 2003, and the permanent-improvement levy dates back to 1988.
The two levies combined cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $263 annually.
Canfield voters also renewed their school district levy. The five-year, 5.9-mill levy generates $1 million annually.
Voters first approved the levy in 2013, which costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $200 annually.