No major change in mental health levy recount

First Posted: 12/6/2013

LIMA — It was a close call on Election Day, close enough to prompt a second look, but with recounts completed in two counties, it is appearing more likely that the 1 mill Mental Health levy has indeed been voted down.

“I’d be surprised if we had some dramatic reversal of the results,” according to Michael Schoenhofer, executive director for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties. “I was hoping we’d pick up a few votes, but we’ll still be short by about a hundred or so.”

The Allen County Board of Elections completed its recount Thursday, adding six yes votes to the levy, while maintaining the number of votes against the measure.

“It wasn’t a significant change,” Mark Vernik, deputy director of the Board of Elections, said. “We were very close to exactly what we had at the election. It was a good recount.”

As for Auglaize County, its Board of Elections completed its recount late Friday afternoon, and its results were exactly the same as during the election, with 51 percent of Auglaize County voters supporting the measure.

“The hand count and then again running those through the M650 tabulator came out exactly the same with no change,” board director Michelle Wilcox said. “We then proceeded and reran all the ballots to make sure the recount was correct.”

No recount results are currently available from Hardin County, but in order for the measure to pass, there would have to be a significant change in the original tally. Allen and Auglaize Counties both passed the measure by slim margins on Election Day, but Hardin County voted the measure down by a 55 percent margin.

“If we were only down by about 15 votes or so, I’d be more on pins and needles about the recount,” Schoenhofer said.

With the outcome of the recount all but decided, the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board is already working on getting back on the ballot.

“Our board has already begun the process, and we’ll do the final resolution on Wednesday, of putting the issue back on the ballot in May,” Schoenhofer said. “We got this close, and the need is so great for these services that aren’t covered by anyone else.”

Schoenhofer and others on the board plan on refining their message to voters, emphasizing that these funds are sorely needed for not only maintaining treatment programs for the mentally ill, but also creating and developing new treatment and prevention programs.

“We were hoping to expand our prevention progam in schools,” he said. “It’s a huge prevention effort to keep kids from developing mental illness or addiction or even ADHD. Also, all three counties are in the midst of a terrible opiate epidemic right now. We were hoping to expand our opiate treatment programs to all three counties. Right now, we just have one in Hardin. But the process will be slowed down until we get the levy going.”

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