The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 26, 2013

Levy for Ashtabula County Children Services will appear on Nov. ballot

By STACY MILLBERG - smillberg@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Children Services Board will ask voters to pass a new .5 mill levy this November.

Children Services Director Babs Legeza said, the board is still falling short even though it eliminated a lot of its operating expenses. The deficit is directly related to the number of children in care as well as the 22 percent decrease in state and federal funding.

Legeza said in 2012, the total child welfare receipts for the county were $5,984,887, while the total expenditures were $6,378,525. The estimated receipts for 2013 are $5,789,384.

“We’re trying to decrease our expenditures and our staff has been reduced,” she said.

Efforts to reduce cost in operating expenses have resulted in a reduction in spending, but it hasn’t made up for the 36 percent increase in the number of children entering agency care since 2010, she said.

“Our six month average in 2013 is 12 kids higher than last year’s average,” Legeza said. “A lot of that has to do with drugs.”

Since January, 22 mothers have tested positive for drugs when giving birth, she said. The children born to those mothers are in need of immediate care.

The average placement cost for a child in care ranges from $22.85 per day to $260 per day. The level of care is based on a child’s individual needs. As of a few days ago, there were 147 children in care in the county, Legeza said, but the average through June has been 141 children. That number changes daily, she said.

The Children Services Board has a 1.75 mill general operating levy that has been supported by county residents since 1982, but with the decrease in state and federal funding, Legeza said the levy is not enough to cover the increase in the care of the children.

The .5 mill levy will generate $750,000 per year. A homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 will pay $15 per year.