The local Mental Health and Recovery Services Board will soon become a four-county organization, covering Ottawa, Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss approved Ottawa County’s comprehensive plan to join the Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot board effective on Friday, Oct. 1.
When it comes to the local mental health and addiction system in Ottawa County, there will be no change for clients currently receiving services in the four counties and who are currently receiving board assistance. The four-county board will continue to provide the same reimbursement methodology for the local providers that have a contract with the board.
Other important aspects of this merger include:
- Ottawa County levy tax dollars were previously used to offer assistance to non-Ottawa County residents. This will change Oct. 1, in that all funds collected from the Ottawa County levy tax will assist residents of Ottawa County.
- Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties have their own local levy tax. Taxes collected in each county assist residents of those respective counties. Simply put, county levy taxes follow the resident of the county.
- On the other hand, a four-county rural district has enhanced abilities to develop and sustain various behavioral health projects, including contracts for inpatient facilities. Often, the board engages in multi-county projects due to the needs of the district.
- The ability to financially sustain the project based on the needs may prove to be much more difficult for a single county to sustain. Shared resources between the four-county district are a benefit to clients receiving services.
- A county within the district may have a program that another county within the district may not have. However, all residents of the district will have access to all programs within the district similar to accessing programs in their own county. Additional options for treatment and recovery supports will be enhanced for Ottawa County residents.
- Operational costs for the four-county organization will reduce the shared cost per county. It will continue to operate one office under one director’s leadership.
- Any savings in administrative costs are invested in direct services or programs for the benefit of the residents.
The current volunteer board members have been very supportive of this milestone merger, as well as the commissioners in the four counties, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, local legislators, and the Board staff. This is a unique development in the history of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Boards across Ohio.
Residents are encouraged to contact the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board directly if they have any questions, comments, or concerns at 419-448-0640.