SUBMITTED — The association representing city leaders throughout Cuyahoga County has endorsed the county’s Health and Human Services Levy, which will appear on March ballots as Issue 33. The vote to support the levy was unanimous.
Richard Bain, secretary of the Cuyahoga County Mayors & City Managers Association and mayor of Pepper Pike, said: “The Health and Human Services levy will provide the critical funds necessary to support vital services for our county’s kids, seniors, healthcare and family services. Supporting the levy will address the gap in funding caused by growing needs and expenses. This is an essential levy we can – and the county mayors have – all agreed upon.”
Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter encouraged residents to “please vote for Issue 33” on the March 17th ballot.
“There’s a social obligation to help those in need but there’s also compelling economic reasons to do so,” Mayor DeGeeter said. “If we don’t invest now in the county’s wide-ranging services paid for by this levy, then we’re going to pay for it later in higher public expenses related to the court system, first responders, opioids epidemic, and much more.”
Lakewood Mayor Meghan F. George agreed, saying “I see the need for this funding every day in our city. It makes good sense to help people who are the most vulnerable. By doing so, we help elevate the economic health of our entire community.’’
Levy leaders attribute the need for additional health and human services funding to four primary factors:
• Protracted Poverty: One out of five Cuyahoga County residents live in poverty, which for a family of three is an annual income of $21,330 or less.
• The Opioid Epidemic: The rate of opioid-induced deaths in the county is 2.5 times the national average. Opioid addiction among parents has caused the number of children in Cuyahoga County who are in foster care or under protective supervision to grow by nearly 70% since 2016.
• Demographic Challenges and Needs: Several age groups of county residents—including infants, working-age adults and older adults 65-74—have mortality rates higher than the state average. In 2017, neonatal infant mortality for all children born in Cuyahoga County was worse than it was in many impoverished countries.
• Insufficient Federal and State Support: Successive federal and state administrations have reduced their contributions to the Health and Human Services safety net.
Cuyahoga County’s Health and Human Services system provides vital lifelines for more than 400,000 residents facing critical needs. It’s a small cost that has a huge impact, costing property owners less than $3.50 per month more (about $1 a year more) for every $100,000 in property value. It would generate an additional $35 million in annual health and human services funding.
Brad Sellers, Mayor of Warrensville Heights said: “Issue 33 is needed to help our community’s most vulnerable through programs including care for abused and neglected children and home services so that our seniors can live independently at home. In light of recent cuts in state and federal support, we need to protect our safety net system for tens of thousands of citizens in every community in the county.”