The Stark County commissioners approved placing a 10-year renewal on the May 7 ballot.

CANTON  The county agency that helps provide funding for mental health and addiction services is seeking a renewal of its levy.

Stark County commissioners on Wednesday approved placing a 10-year renewal of the Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Board's 1-mill levy on the May 7 ballot.

John Aller, the board's executive director, said the levy raises about $7 million a year and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $28 a year.

If approved, it would not lead to a tax increase. If rejected, property taxes owed would decrease.

"We use those moneys to provide prevention, intervention and treatment services in the county," he told commissioners. "We served about 20,000 people in treatment (as of June 30, 2018) and then we served about 25,000 people in prevention services."

Aller said a significant amount of the levy funding is used to fund treatment for people addicted to opiates. He said in 2016, 116 Stark County residents died from overdosing on opiate drugs. In 2018, the number dropped to a preliminary 63.

The agency is a result of the effective merger between the Stark County Mental Health Board and the county Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board in 2007. Voters in November 2008 narrowly approved a 10-year 1-mill levy to fund the new entity. That's the levy that the agency is seeking to renew.

The roughly $7 million a year the Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Board gets today is part of the board's $34.5 million a year in revenue. Much of it is from state and federal grants, Aller said.  About 8.5 percent of it pays administrative costs and the payroll.

The board is based at 121 Cleveland Avenue SW and has about 50 employees, said Aller. About 18 of them handle administrative functions of similar boards in 12 other counties.

Aller said his agency assisted in the response to the spike in suicides by local teens in 2017. The agency provided $1 million and 18 local school districts about $500,000 to pay local nonprofits to provide more mental health counselors that serve 93 school buildings. They were among the 75 positions that the agency helped fund, Aller said.

"That allows us to have early consultative services for kids as they're being identified," Aller said. "And then hopefully getting them connected to treatment services."

His agency also works with local courts to fund rehabilitation for crime offenders addicted to drugs. He cited the Canton Municipal Court Drug Court. And it pays for mental health treatment and drug rehabilitation for people without insurance such as Medicaid.

"So we're creating diversion programs which are really an opportunity to keep people out of the jail and criminal justice system. And then get them involved in the treatment they need," said Aller. "And so last year, we've developed in collaboration with everyone else about 10 of those programs. Because, again, the challenge is you can put them in jail and they can go out to the jail and sit with the sheriff. But ultimately when they come out they need to get engaged in treatment anyhow."

Aller added the agency has an employee at the emergency rooms of local hospitals and as people who've suffered drug overdoses are brought in for treatment, the employee helps arrange for longer-term rehabilitation.

Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or robert.wang@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @rwangREP.