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Mental health, addiction services funded by ADM Board levy

9/26/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County voters will see Issue No. 1, a renewal levy for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADM) Board, on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot.

The levy was last approved by voters in 2007, according to Jerry Craig, the ADM Board’s executive director. That levy was a replacement with a reduction of an existing levy to fund the board.

“Our levy gives us the flexibility to develop programs and services that support treatment,” Craig said.

The 2.95-mill levy collects $32.6 million a year and costs the owner of $100,000 in property value $90 a year, ADM officials said. It currently provides more than 75 percent of the board’s funding, with the remainder about equally divided between state and federal funds. The levy cycle is for six years.

Craig said the duties of the ADM board, which has its roots in the Mental Health Act, are set by the Ohio Revised Code. The local board is one of 53 similar boards in the state and is responsible for seeing that services are available locally for adults, teens and children with mental illnesses and/or alcohol and drug addictions. The ADM Board doesn’t provide direct services. Instead, it contracts with local agencies to provide services for individuals and families in need.

“The board’s role is to assess the community’s needs to plan, along with community stakeholders, about what the needs are, then we contract with agencies who are able to provide services we feel are most needed,” Craig said.

Currently, 26 agencies receive funding through the ADM Board, including Child Guidance and Family Solutions, Community Health Center, Mature Services, Portage Path Behavioral Health and the Interval Brotherhood Home.

Last year, Craig said 25,000 people received treatment through the ADM Board and another 25,000 were on the receiving end of prevention services.

“That doesn’t include calls [to our hotline] and the number of people we touch through programs like the suicide prevention coalition,” Craig said. “We look at it that we touch one out of every five people in the community.”

He added the individuals helped through the ADM Board come from all communities in Summit County.

The board’s budget is currently at about $42 million annually, Craig said. The board has 20 employees, a reduction from 27 in 2007, he added.

“Part of that was due to shifting workloads as a result of some of the dollars we lost,” he said. “For example, Medicaid dollars don’t come through boards anymore, so we’ve made attempts to streamline operations, but also to respond to policy changes that took place. Our expenses were lower last year by $25,000 than they were in 2007. We’ve managed to hold the line on expenses.”

That was able to happen despite the challenges presented by the economic downturn in recent years.

“It used to be that our levy was about 50 percent of our funding, but the state took back funds it had allocated to communities,” Craig said. “Even if you factor out the Medicaid match, we’ve lost about 62 percent of our funding since 2002 from state sources. We’ve been able to shift the priorities we had identified in the last levy cycle. There are many things we wanted to do that we weren’t able to do because we wanted to preserve our system.”

The board is currently rolling out a levy campaign that will include yard signs and door-to-door visits from volunteers.

“We are meeting with pastors to first of all seek their assistance in helping us to get people to appreciate and understand our services and to help us with efforts to get people to the polls,” Craig said. “It’s largely an attempt to continue to educate the community about the benefit of services that our levy allows us to provide.”

Craig said if the levy attempt is unsuccessful this fall, the board will likely go back on the ballot at some point in 2014. The current levy still has one more year before it expires, he said.

For more information on the levy, go to www.supportadmboard.org. For more information on the ADM Board, go to www.admboard.org or call 330-762-3500.

For those in need of assistance, call 330-434-9144 for Portage Path Behavioral Health for adult mental health emergencies; 330-996-7730 for Oriana House for alcohol and drug emergencies; or 330-543-7472 for Akron Children’s Hospital for child mental health emergencies.

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