By Patricia Ann Speelman
TROY — A change in schedules by the state will result in a cut of $230,000 in mental health funding to the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services, but local recipients of those services will not feel the pinch, at least in the short term.
“Our feeling is for individuals with addictions,” said Tri-County Executive Director Mark McDaniel. “So we have used board reserves to back-fill it.”
The funding, which is specifically for substance abuse, prevention and treatment (SAPT), is “pass-through” money from the federal government, McDaniel said.
“The state gets a federal grant for SAPT,” he said. “What has happened in years past is that the state allocates dollars and the (actual) money comes to the state later.”
In an attempt to align allocations with fund dispersement, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHA) announced that appropriations for fiscal year 2015, which began July 1, would cover six quarters instead of the usual four.
“The same amount of federal grant funding will be distributed – there is no cut – but the amount will be spread out over six quarters instead of four,” states the announcement on the MHA website.
In fact, the new distribution takes $230,000 from coffers that will support SAPT services in Shelby, Miami and Darke counties during the next year and a half, until December 2015.
“The timing isn’t really helpful,” McDaniel said, “with all the heroin issues. It’s not the time to cut funds to addictive services.”
While reserves will take the sting out of that particular move, additional state cuts of $250,000 bring the total difference in Tri-County funding to $481,000. That represents just under 7.5 percent of the board’s entire operating budget.
“We’re trying to figure out ways to get those dollars back,” the director said. But now the local board must apply for funds for specific purposes and compete for them with other boards from throughout Ohio.
“So the state is dictating what we can use those funds for,” he added.
Because Miami County’s population is twice that of Shelby County and twice that of Darke County, the board usually spends 50 percent of its budget on Miami County programs and 25 percent on programs in each of Shelby and Darke counties. So the cuts will not affect all three counties equally.
And even though reserves will cover part of this year’s shortfall, “we can’t continue to deficit fund,” McDaniel said.
According to the MHA website, state SAPT allocations have totaled $62.6 million annually. In fiscal year 2015, they will equal $41.7 million. In FY 2016, they are due to return to $62.6 million.