While Delaware County's nine candidates for countywide office are running unopposed, nearly all of the county's voters will be asked to determine the outcome of two ballot measures on Election Day.

While Delaware County's nine candidates for countywide office are running unopposed, nearly all of the county's voters will be asked to determine the outcome of two ballot measures on Election Day.

The Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services board has asked voters in the two counties it serves to approve a five-year, 1-mill renewal levy Nov. 8. In addition, Delaware County would like voters -- excluding residents of Columbus, Dublin and Westerville who live in the county -- to renew a 0.45-mill, five-year levy with a 0.18-mill increase for 911 services.

Steve Hedge, executive director of the bi-county mental health services board, called the agency's 1-mill levy "the lifeblood of our system."

According to the Delaware County auditor's office, the renewal levy, if approved, will cost property owners $29.09 annually per $100,000 in their homes' market value. The levy will generate an estimated $7.3 million per year for the board.

Hedge said the levy represents 84 percent of the board's revenue, with the remainder coming from the state and federal governments.

The board is tasked with funding and monitoring addiction and mental-health services in Delaware and Morrow counties. It contracts with partner agencies such as the Central Ohio Mental Health Center, Maryhaven, which serves clients with addiction and mental-health conditions, and Turning Point, which serves victims of domestic violence.

Hedge said the loss of levy funding would result in "major cutbacks" and a stricter focus on legally mandated services, even though the board ended 2015 with a balance of more than $16 million.

Hedge said the board grew its balance in recent years amid uncertainty about the political struggle over the state's move to expand Medicaid. He said the board since has moved to spend down its balance.

This year, the board made a one-time decision to reduce its collection rate to 0.25 mills. Hedge estimated property owners saved about $5 million in taxes because of the unusual move.

"We're trying to educate folks we're being good stewards of their dollars," he said.

The board estimates its balance will be less than $8.5 million by the end of 2016, according to information provided by the Delaware County Auditor's Office.

Hedge said the board plays a vital role in the Delaware and Morrow County communities.

"We obviously use our services as the safety net," he said. "We don't turn anyone away."

The vast majority of Delaware County voters also will decide the fate of a renewal levy with an increase for 911 services.

Under the existing levy, property owners in the county pay $13.18 in taxes annually per $100,000 in their property's market value. If the proposed levy is approved, residents will pay $19.48 each year per $100,000 in market value.

The existing levy generates about $2.6 million in revenue annually. If approved, the proposed levy will generate about $1.1 million in additional revenue per year.

County officials have said the levy will allow for continued operations with possible future enhancements such as text-based communication with emergency dispatchers.

County Commissioner Jeff Benton previously said the levy would allow the county to stop using its general fund to subsidize the 911 center's budget.

"What we're trying to do is make 911 self-sufficient," he said in July. "We worked hard to make it as small of (a tax) increase as possible."

In races for countywide office, nine candidates are running unopposed: Natalie Fravel for clerk of the court of common pleas; Mark Hickman for coroner; Benton and Gary Merrell for county commissioner; Chris Bauserman for engineer; Carol O'Brien for prosecutor; Melissa Jordan for recorder; Russell Martin for sheriff; and Jon Peterson for treasurer.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick