The failure for the second time in about six months of a proposed new 1-mill, 10-year levy for the Paint Valley ADAMH program left Paint Valley officials “extremely disappointed.”
In unofficial totals, the levy failed across the five-county region served by Paint Valley by a vote of 7,703 against to 6,701 in favor, a 53-47 percent defeat.
Among the five counties served by Paint Valley – Highland, Pike, Ross, Fayette and Pickaway – the levy passed only in Fayette and Pickaway.
In Highland County, voters overwhelmingly turned down the levy by a vote of 1,667-595. In Ross County, the vote was 2,620 in favor, 3,019 against. In Pike County the levy vote was 363 in favor, 733 against. In Fayette County, the vote was 1,775 in favor, 1,324 against. In Pickaway County the vote was 1,348 for the levy, 960 against.
While the vote in Highland County was solidly against the levy, most registered voters stayed home, with turnout here only about 8 percent. Turnout in Fayette County was 19 percent, Ross County 13 percent, Pickaway County 7 percent, and 6 percent in Pike County.
Following Tuesday’s results, Paint Valley associate director Penny Dehner issued a statement saying, “While we are extremely disappointed in the outcome of the vote, the Paint Valley ADAMH Board would like to thank all residents in Fayette, Highland, Pickaway, Pike, and Ross Counties. We remain committed to evidenced based prevention and treatment services provided, but our current funding levels are not enough to meet the need of individuals in need of mental health or addiction services.”
The levy was endorsed by sheriffs in each of the five counties in which it appeared, with law enforcement citing the impact drug abuse has on communities, the trauma the families and children face, and the need for the health, counseling and prevention services provided by Paint Valley.
Typically, levies presented in special elections or low-turnout primaries such as the one on Tuesday are seen as having a better chance at passage than higher-turnout November General Elections. But along with a general anti-tax sentiment, recent pledges from state lawmakers in the Ohio House of Representatives to spend more on drug prevention and mental health services might have played a part in driving the “no” vote against the Paint Valley levy.
The Ohio House earlier this week approved a state budget pledging millions of dollars in “new money” for drug prevention and treatment programs, with ADAMH boards included among the recipients.
The budget is likely to undergo substantial changes as it moves to the Ohio Senate and eventually to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, but in a press release on the very day the Paint Valley levy was being decided, House leaders touted:
• $80 million toward treatment (transitional housing, nursing beds pilot program, ADAMHS boards, expanding treatment/detox programs and drug courts).
• $50 million toward supporting children (Child Protective Services and kinship care).
• $19.4 million toward mental health (stabilization centers, residential state supplement, BCI processing lab reports, telemedicine coverage and mental health court pilot program).
• $12.2 million toward prevention (community coalition funding, investing in innovation & technology, accessible educational resources and Start Talking!).
• $9 million toward workforce (short-term certificates and SNAP workforce & training funding).
In her statement after the levy’s defeat, Paint Valley’s Dehner said that even though voters rejected the measure, “Hopefully, this campaign has raised awareness in our community about the critical need to provide a safety net of mental health and counseling services. We will assess and plan accordingly to help as many people as possible now, and provide hope for a better tomorrow.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at [email protected]