I’m writing to encourage you to vote YES on Issue 33, the Health & Human Services Levy, which is on the ballot for this year’s spring primary.
The primary election was scheduled for March 17th, but voting at the polls did not take place on that day, and the primary has been extended. Voting remains open until April 28th, but essentially only by vote-by-mail. If you have not yet voted in the primary, use the following link to the Board of Elections’ website to request a vote-by-mail application: https://boe.cuyahogacounty.us/en-us/vote-by-mail.aspx. Then, mail the form to the Board of Elections, and they will send you a ballot. Because of the uncertainties around this situation, I recommend sending the request in soon, but applications should be accepted until a few days before the cut-off date.
There will be no voting at the polls, and there will be no voting in person at the Election Board, except for disabled people who need assistance. If you have already voted by mail or in person at the Election Board, your vote will count.
The Health & Human Services Levy funds emergency services at MetroHealth, such as trauma care and life flight that any of us might need at any time. The Levy also funds a variety of services to protect children and seniors from abuse, including child welfare, adoption services, and adult protective services. The Levy also funds programs such as senior transportation, meals on wheels, chore services, home health care, and senior center services that enable more seniors to be more independent and remain in their own homes.
The Health & Human Services Levy also provides a variety of front-end preventive and human capital development services that help more people become self-reliant and economically and socially successful. Among these are early childhood education, Say Yes to Education, Closing the Achievement Gap, teen-age pregnancy prevention, and career path oriented workforce development. These programs align with our aspirations to become a more prosperous and inclusive community in which success is measured by how many people succeed, not just the total economic output.
Approval of Issue 33 will also help fund important new initiatives, especially:
One or more diversion centers to enable people with mental health and addiction disorders to receive treatment, rather than being sent to jail.
Kinship care assistance, to help people providing foster care to children in their own family when their natural parents are no longer able to take care of them.
Expanded senior services to help meet the growing senior population.
Issue 33 proposes to replace the existing 3.9 mill levy and add 0.8 mills at an additional cost to homeowners of $41 per year per $100,000 valuation. County leaders have pledged no further increase during the Levy’s 8-year lifetime, if approved.
The increase is needed for 3 main reasons: First, costs go up $5 to $6 million per year just to provide the same services, but the levy, once the rate is set, does not provide additional revenue from year to year. Therefore, the effects of inflation have caught up with us over the 7 years since the last increase, and our reserves have been depleted. Second, the new initiatives just mentioned require additional funding.
Finally, the need is very great. Cleveland is the second poorest city in the US. The number of children in county custody has gone up 75% over the past 10 years. Strong racial and class disparities in health, education, employment, criminal justice, and longevity continue to exist. Without this increase, we could not even stay the same, let alone get better and stronger as a community.
Please Vote Yes on Issue 33 to help our fellow citizens in need and help Cuyahoga County become the diverse, inclusive, and broadly prosperous community that we all desire. In these times of coronavirus, we need all the health and human services support we can get. Please send in your request to the Board of Elections today to vote by mail for Issue 33!
County Councilperson, District 2