In the last few weeks before the election, Steve Hedge, executive director of the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, has been making the rounds at local council and school board meetings, explaining the need for the 1-mill levy up for renewal on the ballot.

In the last few weeks before the election, Steve Hedge, executive director of the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, has been making the rounds at local council and school board meetings, explaining the need for the 1-mill levy up for renewal on the ballot.

The levy, which would raise $7 million annually, represents 50 percent of the board’s funding, Hedge said. It is a renewal of a levy originally passed in 1986 and most recently passed in 2006. It would cost homeowners $30.63 per $100,000 of home value, the same as the existing levy.

The Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, in association with local organizations, provides treatment for mental health issues and treatment for drug and alcohol addiction for 4,300 people a year.

“Financially, it’s very critical,” he said. “We’ve seen an increase in the demand for services based on the economic times and stresses.”

During the last three years, the board has experienced an 18-percent increase in its caseload, Hedge said.

“The services are essential. They’re basic services that are available to everybody and that’s why we need to continue to have the resources here,” Hedge said. “(Addiction) doesn’t discriminate. It affects all age groups.”

The board works with local service providers including HelpLine, Turning Point, Maryhaven, Central Ohio Mental Health Center, Del-Mor Dwellings Corp., Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, Center of Vocational Alternatives, Recovery and Prevention Resources of Delaware and Morrow Counties and SafeHarbor Peer Support Services.

In addition, the board reaches out to 15,000 youths through school-based prevention programs.

The administrative budget of the board is lean, with 94 cents of every dollar being used to provide direct services, Hedge said.

“We have a very small operation here,” he said. “That’s a commitment on our part to direct services. We’ve cut down on our overhead, so we can direct more funds to the resources and treatment that are needed.”

Hedge said the board has operated on the same 1-mill levy for almost 30 years and does not receive county general funds.

“We’re not asking for an increase in taxes. I think that’s a credit to our ability to manage the resources we have,” Hedge said. “We want to make people understand how valuable these services are. They’re available to anyone that needs them. You may not need them, but if you need them, they’re there. It’s a safety net of service.”