Hamilton County Children's Services Tax Levy Review
This report analyzes the request for renewal of the 2.77 mills levy to support Hamilton County Children’s Services. In 2000, the levy brought in 45 percent of total revenue. Federal funds accounted for 52 percent of revenue and state money made up the remaining 3 percent.
Hamilton County Children’s Services is responsible for taking reports of child abuse, neglect, and dependency; investigating these reports; acting to protect child victims and children at risk; coordinating adoption and foster-care services; and operating a 24-hour hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect.
Money collected from the Children’s Services levy has been returned to county taxpayers twice in the current levy period. In 1998 the county returned $10 million to property owners, and in 2001 the tax refund will be approximately $13 million.
The refunds became possible because the agency was able to make use of non-local sources that could not be anticipated in the 1996 tax levy budget, especially federal funds.
Of the 88 counties in Ohio, 42 have dedicated levies to support children’s services. Hamilton County Children’s Services operations are comparable to the operations of other county agencies in Ohio. Hamilton County Children’s Services operates well within the bounds set by all Ohio counties for various measures analyzed in this report, including the levy rate, sources of funding, per capita expenditure, caseloads per worker, and purchases from private providers. Urban counties in other states investigated in this report do not have special levies for Children’s Services
The budget plan for the current levy period includes a higher proportion of federal dollars to total revenue than in the previous levy period. The continued availability of federal money to cover additional expenses attached to the levy budget is uncertain.
The recommendations of the Tax Levy Review Committee for the 1996 levy request were implemented during the previous levy period. Hamilton County Children’s Services has made use of alternative sources of funding, especially federal dollars, so that a continuation of the levy at the same rate is requested.