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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

With Issue 5 approval, Hamilton County voters say seniors deserve more

VictoryFor the first time since 2008, voters in Hamilton County have approved an increase in the senior services levy. For the past 10 years, the levy which funds 92 percent of Hamilton County’s Elderly Services Program (ESP) has been losing revenue, and serving fewer seniors as a result. The increase, approved by 72 percent of voters on Nov. 7, means the county can help more vulnerable seniors remain safe and independent in their homes.

“Seniors are an overlooked, underserved population in our county. They deserve to have a choice in where they live as they age,” said Council on Aging (COA) President and CEO, Suzanne Burke. “The election results show a recommitment by voters to make Hamilton County a great place to live and grow old. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this levy than by voters standing up and saying ‘Our seniors deserve more.’”

COA administers the Hamilton County Elderly Services Program, which receives 92 percent of its funding from the levy. The program provides meals, medical transportation and other services that help more than 5,700 frail elderly remain independent in their homes, avoiding unnecessary and costly placement in nursing homes.

In August, Hamilton County Commissioners voted to allow an increase in the senior services levy, pending voter approval. Council on Aging requested the increase because Hamilton County’s older adult population is growing and revenue generated by the levy is on the decline. As a result, fewer seniors are being served by the Elderly Services Program. In 2005, ESP served 42 percent of older adults who might have been eligible for and needed the program. In 2016, the program served just 27 percent. By comparison, neighboring counties with similar levy-supported programs serve closer to 50 percent of eligible seniors.

The new levy will help COA reverse the negative trend that has occurred over the last decade. With the additional funding, COA can serve an estimated 20 percent more seniors by 2020, and 30 percent more by 2022. The new levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $40.25 a year.

The senior services levy benefits everyone and makes Hamilton County a better place to live. More than one in four Hamilton County households includes someone over the age of 65. The levy helps long-married couples care for each other in their homes. It also provides much needed respite for working caregivers who are struggling to keep their mothers and fathers at home, and it benefits local businesses whose employees are juggling work and caregiving responsibilities.

Southwestern Ohio counties have supported senior services levies for 35 years, ever since the first levy was approved in Clermont County in 1982. Ten years later, voters approved the first levy in Hamilton County, with additional levies following in Butler County (1996), Clinton County (1998) and Warren County (2002). Each levy must be approved by voters every five years in order for the Elderly Services Program to continue.

Council on Aging manages the levy programs via contracts with county commissioners in Butler, Clinton, Hamilton, and Warren counties.

Read more about the Elderly Services Program.

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