Butler County Children Services plans next levy

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 4:42 PM

Butler County commissioners are weighing a renewal levy request for Butler County Children Services on the November ballot.

Interim Butler County Job and Family Services Executive Director Bill Morrison says a renewal of the 2-mill levy that brings in about $13 million is all that is necessary, not an increase.

Butler County spent $24 million on children’s services last year, including the local levy money which makes up 59 percent of the agency’s revenues.

CLOSER LOOK: Opioid crisis strains children’s services in Ohio, Butler County

The current levy, approved by 61 percent of voters in 2012, expires next year. If voters do not renew the levy, the agency will be in the negative almost $5 million by 2019 and $60 million by 2023, according JFS Finance Director Barb Fabelo’s projections.

Not only would the levy funds be lost, but so would a majority of federal funding, which requires matching money from the levy.

“Levy failure would mean a skeleton operation with only mandated services,” Fabelo told the Journal-News.

MORE: Opiate epidemic focus of new Butler County Family Drug Court

Morrison previously said he may have to ask commissioners to approve a higher levy amount in order to deal with the opiate epidemic.

“It’s not that we’re licking the problem or anything like that, but we are managing to deal with the problem successfully,” Morrison told the Journal-News. “We continue to work all the non-heroin cases largely without removing the children and placing the children in foster care, so our in-custody numbers continue to fall.”

Of the 355 children in the care of Butler County Children Services, 161, or 43 percent, come from families where drugs were cited as the reason for the removal of the children.

Many changes have occurred at the agency over the past several years that have produced positive results both financially and for families. They changed their case flow and have taken advantage of Medicaid expansion by using providers for services once done in-house.

MORE: Program aims to keep children out of Butler County’s custody

Morrison resurrected the Family Preservation program last year which allows them to bill Medicaid. It also is an opportunity to keep families together which keeps costs down. In 2014 placement costs were $12 million the projection for this year is $8.8 million.

The staffing at BCCS is also down with 148 people versus 165 in 2012. There are 15 vacancies in the department, but that doesn’t mean they will all be filled, Morrison said.

“We don’t just automatically fill things because they are there,” Morrison said. “We’re always looking for opportunities to save some dollars, we’re always looking for opportunities to shift costs away from levy funds… any way we can. We look at our levy dollars as being precious.”

Butler County Administrator Charlie Young praised the agency that only a couple years ago was staring down a $4 million deficit.

MORE: Children Services deficit doubles to $4 million

“We’ve seen that not so long ago, 2014 our funds had run extremely low,” he said. “We’ve seen the recovery that they’ve made through just an incredible amount of hard work and leadership from the commission and leadership from Bill, from Julie from others in the organization and truly leadership from your staff that adopted these policies.”

Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 3:33 AM

Roy Halladay pitched 16 seasons in the major leagues before retiring in 2013.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Roy Halladay pitched 16 seasons in the major leagues before retiring in 2013.(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

An autopsy on former major-leaguer Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when he died in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was flying his personal plane -- an ICON A5, which is an amphibious two-seat plane with foldable wings -- when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near New Port Richey, the Times reported. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the case.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a pathologist and director of the University of Florida’s Health Forensic Medicine center, said the drugs found in Halladay’s system were a concern, the Times reported.

>> Former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay killed in plane crash

“The drugs are particularly important in the assessment of the impairment of Mr. Halladay while operating the plane,” Goldberger told the Times. “The NTSB will take this evidence under consideration during their investigation of this accident.”

The autopsy did not say whether Halladay had prescriptions for the medications found in his system, the Times reported.

Halladay, a father of two, was an All-Star during his 16-year major-league career with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. He had a 203-105 record and won the Cy Young Award in 2003 with Toronto and in 2010 with Philadelphia.

Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 2:52 AM

Campbell's tomato soup cans.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Campbell's tomato soup cans.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Amanda Mattuchio said her parents use a fake can of Campbell's Tomato Soup to hide their cash.

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Unfortunately, they stored it alongside real soup cans in their kitchen.

“The bottom would unscrew and it had $2,500 in it and it was a combination of $100 and $50 bills,” she said. “The neighbor upstairs asked them if they had any canned goods they wanted to donate to the senior center.”

Her parents cleared out their soup cabinet, not giving their donations a second thought until several weeks later.

“When they went to put some more money into the can, they realized it had been put in with the donations. It was kind of devastating,” Mattuchio said. 

Frank Leary runs the Middleton Food Pantry where those cans ended up. He says on average, they receive hundreds of donated cans of soup a week. They searched every single one but still haven't found that can.

“I would love to find the can of soup. That amount of money is a terrible, terrible loss for anyone,” Leary said. “For all I know, that Campbell tomato soup is sitting in someone's cabinet right now and they don't even know it.”

Mattuchio’s parents are retired and live on a fixed income. She is asking anyone who went to the Middleton Food Pantry within the past few weeks to open their cabinets and inspect their soup cans. 

“I just hope whoever did find the money. If it has been found that they see this and they find it in their heart to return it,” Mattuchio said. 

Leary said he will remain vigilant in hopes of finding the can. Middleton Police said they have reached out to the family to see what they can do.

“If I opened a can of soup and expected to get a hot bowl of soup and got a hot bowl of cash, it would make an impression on me that I would want to talk to my friends about it,” Leary said. \

Mattuchio's father said if the person who found the can doesn't return it, he hopes they can use the money to help make their own life a little easier.

Wright Patt: Workers to show up Monday even if shutdown still in place

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 5:46 PM

Wright-Patt workers to still go to work Mon. in event of shutdown

Thousands of Wright-Patterson employees were expected to report to work Monday morning for further instructions “to carry out orderly shutdown activities” if a partial federal government closure stuck at midnight Friday, base authorities said.

The scenario could be a replay of October 2013 when most civil service employees at Wright-Patterson were sent home on furlough at the state’s largest single-site employer with more than 27,000 personnel, but how many might be impacted in another temporary closure could not be answered Friday.

“It is difficult to determine how many employees would be impacted because a determination of the furlough parameters has not been released,” base spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in an email.

All military personnel, regardless of their job, would report for duty, according to the Defense Department.

RELATED: Threat of government shutdown wearing on workers

Those who stay on the job — both military and civilian — will not be paid until a Congressional appropriations bill is passed, according to the Pentagon. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force planned to remain open over the weekend unless it receives a shutdown order, according to spokeswoman Diana Bachert. She said the museum would issue an update to the news media, and post an alert on the museum’s social media sites and its website if it must close.

Retired Col. Cassie B. Barlow, installation commander of Wright-Patterson the last time a shutdown hit, said Friday carrying out shutdown activities were “very complex” and “all encompassing.”

“I feel sorry for the folks on the base right now and what they have to go through,” she said. “It’s very frustrating. It’s frustrating for the commanders, but it’s also frustrating for all of the employees because they are starved for information right now and they’re listening to the news …

“It’s a stressful time especially when there’s a potential to not get paid,” she said, adding it was “no way” to treat employees or run a business.

The Pentagon issued a contingency plan Friday that listed broad categories where employees may be allowed to stay on the job, such as police, fire and medical services and other duties deemed “essential” to national security.

RELATED: What if a government shutdown happened: Five things to know

The reverberations of a government shutdown would be similar to the last one struck in 2013, according to Air Force Capt. Hope Cronin.

“We are hopeful that there is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations,” she said Friday afternoon. “However, at this time, we must plan for a range of scenarios” that include a short-term stopgap funding measure, a budget deal or a shutdown.

Air Force reservists were expected to attend a previously funded drill weekend Saturday and Sunday at the base with the 445th Airlift Wing, said spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris.

Among other impacts, U.S. District Court in Dayton would remain open, federal Judge Walter Rice said Friday. “I don’t expect any immediate change,” he said.

RELATED: Will a shutdown happen? Wright-Patterson in holding pattern

The U.S. Postal Service mail delivery and post offices would stay open and Social Security payments would continue to recipients, according to authorities.

The Ohio National Guard issued a statement Friday saying the agency would continue national defense operations and respond to state emergencies.

At the University of Dayton Research Institute, which has millions of dollars in federal contracts employing some 200 people, some employees may be prevented from doing their jobs and the institute “would need to find other work for them as possible,” John Leland, UDRI executive director, said in a statement. “Other contract work might have to shift temporarily shift from a government installation to a UD facility.”

Those changes are “disruptive” and “causes waste at taxpayer expense,” he added.

Head Start education programs for pre-schoolers were expected to be open Monday if a shutdown occurred, but a long-term government closure may have an impact on operations, according to Barbara Haxton, executive director of the Ohio Head State Association in Dayton.

Government shuts down, negotiations expected through weekend

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:23 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 12:11 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

The federal government shut down Saturday for the first time since 2013 late Friday, with a handful of Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate opposing efforts to keep the federal government running for another month.

By a vote of 50-48, Senate Republicans fell far short of the 60 votes needed to end floor debate and clear the way for a vote on a bill approved Thursday by the House which would keep the federal government open until the middle of February.

Hundreds of housands of federal workers faced the possibility of being furloughed during a shutdown.

While most of the functions of the federal government will still operate – the mail will be delivered, Social Security checks will still go out, the military will still function – workers deemed “non-essential” would be asked not to go to work, and would be paid only after the federal government resumed operations.

RELATED: Five things to know if a shutdown happens

RELATED: Dreamers rally in Dayton to support DACA

At issue was what would be the fourth temporary spending bill passed by Congress since the fiscal year began in October.

That bill would also extend the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, for six years. Republicans included the measure as a sweetener aimed at attracting Democratic support.

At first, the plan seemed to work, with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio indicating he’d likely support the bill. But Brown joined most Senate Democrats Friday in blocking a floor vote.

Brown was influenced in part by the announcement Friday that a handful of Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona did not plan to vote for the bill. They had been working toward a separate measure aimed at extending a program that allows people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay, and called for a short-term bill that would keep the government open through early next week, expressing confidence that they could come up with a long term plan during that time.

Brown jumped, saying he’d support the shorter-term plan.

“We are very close to a bipartisan agreement, and we owe it to the people we work for to keep working and get the job done,” said Brown.

RELATED: 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program

RELATED: Trump and Schumer end private talks with no deal in hand

But in agreeing to the shorter-term plan, he became the object of derision from Republicans who hope to unseat him later this year. They said by opting not to support the bill passed by the House, he was effectively voting against the six-year extension of CHIP.

Blaine Kelly of the Ohio Republican Party said Brown’s decision not to vote for the GOP plan “is a flip flop beyond belief, and puts the health insurance of nearly a quarter million Ohio children at risk.”

Jennifer Donohue, communications director for Brown, replied that CHIP would have passed “months ago” if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, “had listened to Senator Brown, but instead they’re holding the program hostage and using Ohio kids as political leverage.”

Last December, Brown voted against a temporary spending bill that kept the government open because it only extended CHIP money for three months instead of five years.

While Republicans blamed Senate Democrats for the shutdown, a Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Friday indicated most Americans blamed the party in power: 48 percent of those polled blamed Republicans while 28 percent blamed Democrats.

Ohio Democrats, meanwhile, pointed out that Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is challenging Brown for Senate, voted for the measure that led to the federal government shutdown in 2013.

“If the government shuts down tonight, the blame will lay at the feet of Republicans in control of Washington, like Rep. Jim Renacci, who irresponsibly govern by crisis and play political games,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jake Strassberger.

Renacci and Senate Republican candidate Mike Gibbons were quick to strike back. James Slepian, a Renacci aide said “after Sherrod Brown vowed to shut down the government, cut off funding to our troops and deny health insurance to 9 million low income children, Senator Brown and his lackeys at the Ohio Democratic Party are terrified by the hell he’ll pay with Ohio voters.”

Gibbons said that “Sherrod Brown and Chuck Schumer are playing politics with people's lives for partisan advantage.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” seemed puzzled that Democrats were holding up the bill in large part because of the immigration issue, saying “it’s an issue that hasn’t been resolved yet and it will take a little more time.” He backed moving the bill forward.

“This is not a good way to score political points,” Portman said. 

Despite the shutdown, much of the government will remain effectively operational, albeit on a smaller scale, at least in the short term. The mail will still get delivered, the post offices will remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual but active duty members will not be paid until the shutdown ends, and Americans receive their Social Security checks. Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.

The state in 2016 had 77,400 federal employees, of which 5,250 were on active duty with the Air Force. Air Force civilian employment was 13,838, almost all at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

During past partial shutdowns, some civilian workers were furloughed, although they were paid when the government re-opened. In the 2013 shutdown, 50 workers at the Defense Supply Center in Whitehall were furloughed.

In part, Democrats have adopted a strategy aimed at their political base which is demanding action on the Dreamers and wants more confrontation with Trump. By doing so, they are emulating the Republican strategy of 2013 in which the GOP closed the government in a futile effort to convince President Barack Obama to scrap his 2010 health law known as Obamacare.

“Smart Republicans have learned how stupid it is politically to shut down the government,” said one longtime Republican lobbyist in Washington. “You don’t win when you shut down the government.

The Republican said the Senate Democrat strategy was complicated when House Republicans overcame their vast differences and passed the temporary spending bill Thursday. Until then, Senate Democrats could justifiably argue that the GOP-controlled House could not keep the government open.

“It would have been one thing if the House failed,” the Republican said. “But once (House Speaker Paul) Ryan did the miraculous and passed a bill with votes from people who hate spending bills of any kind, it totally changed the dynamic.”