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Hamilton County mental health levy tax hike approved for November ballot

Scott Wartman - Cincinnati Enquirer

Updated 9/9/2022

Voters in November will decide whether they want to pay more for mental health services.

The three-member Hamilton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to put a tax hike for the mental health levy on the ballot.

The levy, if approved, would increase the amount Hamilton County property owners pay for the mental health levy on their property tax by 32%.

"We can see and we can hear what’s going on in our community," said Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Stephanie Summerow Dumas. "Anxiety and depression and mental health issues are all over the place."

The current mental health levy costs $40.93 per $100,000 of home value. The increase, the first since 2007, would raise the cost by $13.30 per $100,000 of value.

The levy would bring in $45 million annually. The current levy brings in $36.5 million a year, which is distributed by the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

Without the increase, mental health services would have to be cut, the head of the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

The mental health board doesn't directly provide mental health services. Instead, the proceeds of the levy are dispersed among 25 contracted providers.

The Talbert House, a mental health and addiction treatment facility, received the largest share in 2022 with $7.6 million.

The next largest share went to Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services and its staff of 700, including psychiatrists, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, counselors, care managers and employment specialists. The organization got $6 million from the levy in 2022. Some of the agencies provide housing and rental assistance.

"The levy dollars support what it takes to rehabilitate someone to get a job and back in a living space to the point where they can support themselves and the levy," said Patrick Tribbe, president of the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

Now it's up to the taxpayers, said Commissioner Alicia Reece.

"We are only voting to put it on the ballot so it can go to the people," Reece said. "The people will have the final say."

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