Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Senior services levy proposed

Warren County says it can't keep up with needs

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TURTLECREEK TWP. — A levy to pay for in-home assistance for Warren County's elderly would tax homeowners at 0.96 mills, officials said Tuesday in kicking off the first such effort.

        If the levy passes May 7, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $29.40 a year. The revenue — almost $3.3 million — would give more seniors access to services such as home-delivered meals, medical transportation, and bathing and housekeeping help.

        “It takes care of the people who have taken care of us,” said Bob Logan, chief executive officer of Southwest Ohio Council on Aging.

        More than 9 percent of county residents are at least 65 years old, according to the 2000 Census, and that population is rising along with the general population in Ohio's second-fastest-growing county.

        Warren County Community Services, a private agency, currently gets money from the county commissioners, the federal government and the United Way to help the elderly.

        Warren, however, is the only Southwest Ohio county without an elderly services levy, and the commissioners said in late 2001 that they can no longer keep pace with funding needs.

        Seniors who need meals are receiving them, but more than 300 people are waiting for other services, according to Community Services — and the average wait is more than two years.

        “They need the services in order to remain independent and stay in their own home,” Community Services Executive Director Larry Sargeant said.

        In-home care costs an average of $318 a month — a tenth of the cost of a month in a nursing home, officials said.

        The first step toward the levy is to collect at least 4,440 valid signatures by Feb. 21 to put it on the ballot. More than 100 volunteers are aiding that effort.


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