Proposed ADAMH levy will fight opiate epidemic, officials say


A new levy for the ADAMH board will be on the ballot this November, and according to local mental health and addiction treatment officials, it will help combat the opiate epidemic.

Penny Dehner, a representative from the Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Services Board, met wit Highland County Commissioners on Wednesday to discuss the levy. Also present was Joe Adray, president of FRS Counseling.

Dehner described the ADAMH board as a government entity which covers a five-county area (Fayette, Highland, Pickaway, Pike, and Ross). She discussed the impact of the opiate epidemic, saying that it affects everything from jails to schools to health departments.

Dehner added that even with Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, there are still people who “fall through cracks” when it comes to treatment. Funding, Dehner said, has seen a “steady decline” from state and federal levels.

Despite that decline, she said, “We are seeing more and more people in a mental health crisis than ever before.”

During fiscal year 2016, Dehner said the ADAMH board received $2.1 million in state and federal funding. In comparison, it spent more than $7 million in care.

Currently, there is already a levy in place. “The communities have been very supportive of us,” Dehner said. “We are now asking for an additional new 1-mil levy for the next 10 years.”

This levy will help support more crises care, will make detox centers available, will increase treatment options, and will fund prevention programs at schools, she said. The cost of the levy for a $100,000 home will be about $35, or nine cents a day. If the levy passes, the ADAMH board will be able to start collecting funds in January.

Dehner said that the board “struggled with putting a levy on the ballot,” but she added that there did not seem to be a choice.

“Right now, we’re losing (to opiate addiction),” she said.

Adray also described the impact of opiate addiction, saying, “We will see more and more.”

Adray said, “There’s just this huge need that’s there. I don’t think that’s a secret to anyone. But this levy would help.”

Adray and Dehner also said that a men’s residential treatment center is in the works for Highland County. The levy would not fund the creation of such a center but would be used for its maintenance, Dehner said.

Adray added, “We are very close to making that (treatment center) a reality. It’s a project that’s definitely needed.”

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley provided permissive sales tax receipts. September’s receipts totaled at $616,779.32, he said. That figure is higher than last year’s, which was $590,743.17, according to material provided by Fawley.

In other business, Commissioner Jeff Duncan congratulated everyone who participated in last week’s county fair as well as its auctions. Commissioners Shane Wilkin and Tom Horst echoed that recognition.

Wilkin then said that the county’s business retention surveys are continuing. He described these surveys as “checking everybody’s pulse” to see what local businesses are finding helpful as well as detrimental.

“So far, they’ve been pretty positive visits,” Wilkin said.

Horst added that the refurbishments at the Hi-Tech Center’s meeting room are continuing. Duncan also said that work started on the courthouse this week.

Wilkin said that these renovations were all funded through capital improvement money from the state.

Finally, commissioners held a moment of silence for Sam Barnhouse, who was a long time educator in the county and member of the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education. He passed away on Sunday.

Penny Dehner of ADAMH addresses Highland County Commissioners on Wednesday. Also shown are FRS president Joe Adray, left, and county commissioner Jeff Duncan. Dehner of ADAMH addresses Highland County Commissioners on Wednesday. Also shown are FRS president Joe Adray, left, and county commissioner Jeff Duncan. Sarah Allen for The Times-Gazette

By Sarah Allen

For The Times-Gazette

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