On Tuesday, Summit County voters will find three countywide levy requests on the ballot — Issue 1 for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, Issue 2 for Metro Parks, Serving Summit County and Issue 3 for the Akron Zoo. All three are renewal levies. They do not involve tax increases. Property taxpayers would pay at the same rate.
This editorial page already has recommended a vote for each levy. Worth reiterating as Election Day nears is the important role the tax revenue plays in the operations of these organizations and, consequently, in our shared quality of life.
The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board relies heavily on the levy money — for 78 percent of its operating budget. Thus, approval of the renewal request is essential to sustaining the strong network of services it supports, aiding roughly 50,000 adults and children a year coping with addiction and mental illness.
The local money not only works — partially — to counter reductions in state and federal spending. It allows for flexibility, meeting needs such as transportation and residential programs. Summit County long has been recognized for the reach and effectiveness of its mental health and addiction services. Approval at the polls promises to sustain and enhance the good work.
The renewal request of the Metro Parks also plays a crucial role in its funding, the parks relying on a single levy for operations, maintenance and capital needs. Critics point to the $16 million fund balance of the parks. This money is essential to sustaining sound stewardship, the money serving to leverage federal and other grants, allowing for quick action in acquisitions and improvements.
Think about what adds value to the region, and near the top sits the Metro Parks, the ripple effect detected from home values to our health.
The Akron Zoo made promises when it first sought public money through a property tax levy 13 years ago. It has kept them all, especially in elevating the zoo, Grizzly Ridge opening this past summer, and managing well its resources.
Attendance has climbed steadily. What may be missed is the way the zoo engages the community, from Senior Safari to Backpack Adventure, the latter aimed at disadvantaged students. The zoo has been a good neighbor through its investments in the city’s near west side. The leadership of the zoo, along with the ADM board and the Metro Parks, have earned sustained public support.