Voters in a dozen Ohio counties agreed this week to pay more taxes to fight the fallout from the opioid epidemic, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Thirteen counties put issues on the ballot to boost human services departments that have been devastated by the drug crisis. All but one approved the taxes: Voters in Jackson County, in the Appalachia region, rejected a levy for children’s services that would have raised $813,849 a year for 10 years. Counties are placing more children than ever into foster care because of their parents’ addictions to opioids. Those children are staying much longer, as their parents struggle to recover.
Older residents have been affected, as those addicted to drugs have targeted them. Others, with grown children with addiction issues, must raise their grandchildren. “More and more people are realizing how desperate our communities have become,” said Scott Britton of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. “Stories of children who lose their parents to overdoses, or who are staying in foster care so much longer, have touched people. Also, many more people today have a more direct experience with addiction than in the past.” Lake County voters approved, by 58 to 42 percent, a levy that will raise $5.5 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 piece of property $31.50 annually. “People are realizing that there is a true problem,” said Matthew Battiato of the county Department of Job and Family Services. “It’s a complex thing to explain.”