By Eric Frey

At the March 4 Ohio primary, Butler County residents will vote on a prospective replacement tax levy that would benefit Butler County Children’s Services (BCCS). The BCCS investigates cases of child neglect or abuse, and places children who are victims of these crimes with foster families; the funds generated by this small increase would constitute nearly 60 percent of the agency’s budget. Because the BCCS provides a crucial service to the Butler County community and the cost of the tax to individual property owners would be negligible, The Miami Student editorial board supports the passage of the replacement levy in the upcoming election.

There is a pressing need to provide greater funding to Butler County Children’s Services in order to improve the quality of the agency as well as to maintain its existing programs. Without the proposed tax increase, the BCCS may be forced to cut critical but non-mandated programs related to children’s substance abuse and mental health. Such cuts would adversely impact the most vulnerable members of our community who cannot advocate for themselves.

The levy is also an effective way to raise the necessary funds in a relatively low impact manner. The levy is a small, incremental tax increase-less burdensome than a future large increase-and is structured so that property owners would pay $2 for every $1,000 worth of property. Tax increases that are determined off of property values often burden farmers and small business owners-in other words people who own property that is valued disproportionately higher than their income levels. Yet, despite this general issue presented by property taxes, the new levy is such a small increase that according to some estimates it would cost the owners of property valued at $100,000 a mere $5 more per year.

Another concern with levies based on property value assessments is the potential that property values would increase in the future, effectively raising the burden of the levy on individual tax payers down the road. However, the replacement levy sidesteps the issue by freezing the current property value estimates in place for the next five years.

The BCCS is already an underfunded agency that has struggled to keep up with demand for its services this holiday season. Moreover, its reputation has been marred by the circumstances surrounding the recent Marcus Fiesel case. Recently, however, the organization has taken steps toward improvement by bringing in new staff members, and the replacement tax levy would allow the BCCS to continue to improve the quality of its existing services through the next five years.