© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Government & Politics
00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

Cuyahoga County Foster Care Costs Drive $34 Million Health Services Deficit

Cuyahoga County is facing a $33.5 million deficit in its Health and Human Services budget before its levy is up for renewal next year.

The county is running out of money due in large part to the high numbers of children entering foster care as part of the ripple effect of the opioid crisis.

The cost of foster care in Cuyahoga County is close to $5 million per month and growing, according to county officials at a Monday briefing.

County Budget Director Maggie Keenon told the council’s finance committee budget cuts are being considered, along with an HHS levy increase.

“That’s an option that has certainly been discussed,” Keenon said. “I mean we would be remiss if we didn’t consider all of our options. But I will not say up here now that’s the plan we’re going to go with. Nobody has told me that’s what we’re going to do yet.” 

There are two HHS levies in Cuyahoga County, one runs through 2020 and the other through 2024.

County Council Finance Committee chair Dale Miller said they will have to consider increasing one of those levies through a measure on next year's ballot.

“The levy is a constant source of revenue where we have cost of living [increases] and other such things,” Miller said. “So we have a very serious and immediate problem.”

At the current rate, the county expects the deficit to increase by at least $5 million per year anually after 2020.

If the council opts to cover the deficit with a levy increase, Miller said, the county would have to start preparing soon to meet the December deadline for getting it on the March ballot.

Voters renewed the levy in 2018 for two years without an increase. The plan at the time was to ask for an eight-year extension in 2020.

Cuyahoga County property values were reappraised in 2018. Keenon said the expected funds from last year's reappraisal will increase revenue to HHS programs by about $5 million per year.

Copyright 2020 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.