County Budget



Mayoral Senior Forum at Eliza Bryant Draws Over 60 Attendees

By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate and Community Advocacy
November 12, 2017

On October 25, 2017, the Council On Older Persons (COOP), in collaboration with Eliza Bryant Village, hosted the Senior Forum with Cleveland’s mayoral candidates: incumbent Mayor Frank G. Jackson and challenger City Councilman Zack Reed. The event was held at Eliza Bryant Village, the oldest senior living facility for African Americans in the country. (Eliza Bryant Village has been a long-standing member of COOP.)  The forum was moderated by retired WKYC journalist Tom Beres. Attendance exceeded 60 people, and was comprised of Eliza Bryant residents, elected officials, advocates, and representatives from senior organizations across the city.

The program opened with welcoming remarks from Danny Williams, executive director of Eliza Bryant, followed by comments from COOP Vice Chair Catherine Ciha. The first half of the program was a conversation with Tom Beres and Mayor Jackson. They discussed the current state of the city, describing economic momentum that has taken place in numerous neighborhoods across the city including building up the tax base, as well as the Mayor’s future plans to continue that momentum. He spoke about successes during his terms, including the successful recruitment and hosting of the RNC.  Mayor Jackson then provided insight on his administration’s successes on issues important to seniors, including housing and transportation, as well as some of future plans to help seniors who are in need. The audience then had a chance to ask questions, which touched on a number of issues, including public transportation, housing, and safety. Residents were especially interested in learning more about the issue of dirt bikes and how the proposed track would alleviate the concerns around reckless bikers.





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County Council HHSA Committee hears testimony on topic of Child Support
and an update from Board of Developmental Disabilities

By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate and Community Advocacy
November 6, 2017

The Cuyahoga County Council Health and Human Services and Aging (HHSA) committee heard testimony on two very important issues at the November 1, 2017, meeting.

The Office of Child Support Services testified first, with Director Deborah Watkins requesting an approval of a $660,245 contract with Hyland Software.  The contract would allow the agency to continue working with Hyland Software to enter information into an electronic tracking system, called OnBase, to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.  Director Watkins first provided a general overview of the office, explaining the specific need for funding to transition to an electronic tracking system.  Currently, the office handles 200,000 documents on an annual basis, approximately 770 documents daily, received via paper. She provided an example of the existing inefficiency. Currently, her staff conducts 8,000-10,000 investigations annually to examine if child support payments should be terminated, which is typically when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. The agency employees have to manually place the files on a shelf; case workers then wait 30 days for any appeals that may come. If no appeals come in, the papers are pulled off the shelf and the investigation is closed. With an automated system, the agency would be able to electronically check the child support status, thus streamlining the process and improving management. Such easy tracking can improve the customer experience and increase positive outcomes for families, as well as generate a wide variety of reporting data and metrics. Matt Bender, web applications manager for Cuyahoga County, testified about how the electronic system data can be easily transferred to the overall Cuyahoga County Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which is scheduled to be fully operational by 2019.








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The Budish Administration Unveils 2018-2019 Biennial Budget at Committee on the Whole


By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
October 18, 2017

The Cuyahoga County Council Committee on the Whole met on October 10, 2017, as the budget process for the 2018-2019 biennial budget is now underway. The meeting began with 10 of the 11 Council members in attendance (Councilman Schron was absent). The Committee heard an overview of the proposed budget by County Executive Armond Budish. The county executive laid out a number of strategic priorities in his first term, and his charge is to try and build on the momentum that he has built on universal pre-K, combating infant mortality, and investing in workforce development, while maximizing the impact of the money that has been invested thus far. Uncertainty around the future of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), changes to the Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) taxes, cuts to the Local Government Funds, an aging population, and the opioid epidemic all will loom large over the coming weeks. 

Heading into the budget introduction CCS produced a County Budgeting Matters that previewed many of the factors at play. To read the county budget preview, click here.





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Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee Approves Contracts Aimed at Reducing Teen Pregnancy
By William Tarter, Jr. 
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
June 27, 2017

On June 21, 2017, the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service and Aging Committee approved a contract extension request from the Cuyahoga County Family and Children First Council for ongoing programming aimed at reducing teen pregnancy. The contracts, with Beech Brook and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio for $10,000 and $20,000, respectively, will be extended through the end of 2017. 

The contracts are funded by Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service Levy dollars. Beech Brook and Planned Parenthood will work together with local school district students that have high teen pregnancy rates compared to county and U.S. rates — including Cleveland, South Euclid-Lyndhurst, and Bedford, among others (see teen births mapped by district, below). The students participating in the education seminars are sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth graders, who will continue to be involved in teen health awareness campaigns and have increased access to health services, among other program offerings.  The resolution discussed was an amended version, as the Law Department sought a technical change to move it forward because of a conflict with Section 501 of Cuyahoga County Code, related to Contracts and Purchasing Procedures. 


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HHSA Committee Approves Revised Homeless Service Contract
By Adam White
Graduate Assistant
May 23, 2017

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the Health, Human Services, and Aging (HHSA) Committee of the Cuyahoga County Council approved three resolutions regarding various human service contracts, recommending them for passage by the full council. Continuing a debate from previous meetings, the decision to award a renewed contract to Frontline Services for the operation of the Norma Herr women’s shelter was the sole focus of public comment, as advocates made heard their grievances about living conditions at the city’s only shelter for single women.

In its May 3 meeting, the committee approved the Office of Homeless Services’ (OHS) contract with Frontline, despite the fact that Frontline’s bid for the contract did not meet OHS’ minimum score requirement established in the RFP process. Frontline scored the higher of the two bids received for the Norma Herr contract, and was less than a point away from the minimum requirement. The renewed contract, however, was shortened by the committee to one year, rather than the three-year contract initially recommended by OHS. The contract was on the full council meeting agenda for consideration of adoption on May 9, but was referred back to the HHSA Committee for further review by Council President Dan Brady.




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Budish Administration unveils County Youth Internship Program in HHSA Meeting
By William Tarter, Jr. 
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy

April 21, 2017

At the April 5, 2017 meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, members heard two pieces of legislation. One was the renewal of a contract with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, and the second was a rebranding of one of Cuyahoga County’s signature programs.

The first piece of legislation involved the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, which has had a long-established contract with Cuyahoga County Child and Family Services. According to Bob Math, who represented Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, the county provides a $2.3 million contract to the prosecutor’s office in exchange for legal services. Staff attorneys accompany social workers to court on behalf of the social workers’ clients, when court action is needed for the safety and well-being of the child. The contract began on January 1, 2017, but it is just coming before the committee due to negotiations between the prosecutor’s office and the Department of Job and Family Services (JFS). The contract was passed out of the committee and recommended to the full council for consideration.





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County Council HHSA Committee Hears Contract Extensions, State Budget Update, Medicaid and More

By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy

March 22, 2017

February 22, 2017

Tom Pristow, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, presented a budget allocation approval request that increased the amount distributed for the Cuyahoga County Tapestry System of Care from $5.7 million to $8.1 million. The Cuyahoga County Tapestry of Care is a partnership with government and non-government agencies to create a system for youth to receive wrap-around support services. The goals include reducing recidivism for youth back into county custody, as well as improved family and youth functioning. Councilwoman Shontel Brown asked Director Pristow the reason a change is needed, and Director Pristow replied that it is due to a reformulation of the referral process. Initially, the projected need for the agencies was lower than expected, so a decreased amount was requested by HHS. However, a recent evaluation of the service projections changed the forecast and, thus, a request for restoration of the original funding amounts for the six agencies. Applewood Center, Inc. received an additional $460,324, BeechBrook received an increase of $418,477, Catholic Charities Corporation (Parmadale) received an increase of nearly $1.2 million, and Pressley Ridge received an increase of $338,204. Bellefaire and OhioGuidestone did not see funding increases. Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell noted that many of the organizations in the Tapestry Program were given an “average” grade. She wondered why and how each organization is evaluated to merit each grade. Councilwoman Conwell shared that she would like to see uniformity in agency evaluation in the future. Councilwoman Brown asked Director Pristow for more data on which agency has received what amount from past years, so that it creates context for the amounts being requested, to which Director Pristow agreed. The contract modification was passed out of the HHSA Committee to the full council for consideration.




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JMOC: Behavioral Health Redesign Update

By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
March 20, 2017

The Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) received testimony from two state directors who provided operational updates and policy changes for the state’s upcoming behavioral health redesign implementation on July 1, 2017. The directors touched on many of the changes the Department of Medicaid and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services have made since their last presentation before JMOC on behavioral health redesign in December.        

From the Ohio Department of Medicaid, Director Sears provided an update on the process behind modernizing the Medicaid codes for behavioral health redesign. Sears expressed that a long-term goal of the department is to provide data that displays Ohio’s overall behavioral health spending. Having this data will allow the state to better understand the services and supports needed for both physical and mental health care. This will be accomplished by comparing the new codes and making that comparison more transparent to better understand what services are being used. This will assist the state when setting future behavioral health goals.




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Food Insecurity, Autism Discussed at Final HHSA Meeting
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
December 14, 2016

In what was probably the final meeting for the year of the Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) Committee, the committee heard a presentation from David Merriman, administrator of the Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services, and Bob Math, Department of Health and Human Services contracting office. The five members of the HHSA Committee was also joined by District 11 County Councilwoman Sunny Simon.

The presentation was the renewal of a $1,095,450 annual contract administered by United Way for emergency food distribution to residents, with food purchased from the Cleveland Food Bank. For several years, Cuyahoga County has contracted with various organizations to provide money for individuals who find themselves in emergency need of food. For the past five years, United Way has been the lead partner to the county in helping to administer the funds for this service. The lead provider and distributor of the food is the Cleveland Food Bank. Along with money provided by the county, as well as other funding resources, the Cleveland Food Bank distributes approximately six million pounds of food per year, serving 140,000 households and 320,000 individuals. To maintain the quality of the contract, United Way surveys the hunger centers which receive the distributed food for quality, as well as timeliness of delivery. United Way’s administrative costs are about .5 percent of the contract costs.




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Neighborhoods to Watch, For Better or Worse
By Kate Warren
Policy & Planning Associate
October 27, 2016

In this blog, I’ll share some of the neighborhood that stood out to me as I explored the data in the neighborhood profiles. For some highlights from the data, check out my blog from earlier in the week. Click here to view the Cleveland Neighborhood Profiles.

The Central Neighborhood Struggle
There are neighborhoods in Cleveland that are hurting, and then there’s the Central neighborhood, which was home to the nation’s first public housing, and remains heavily concentrated with public housing today. Central’s median household income of $9,647 is over $5,000 less than the next lowest earning neighborhood. At that income a single person would be well below the federal poverty level, but in Central, 43 percent of households are families with children, and most of those families are headed by a single parent. They have the highest rate of households with cash public assistance income (19 percent) and households receiving SNAP, or food stamps (68 percent). They have the highest poverty rate in the city, with 69 percent of residents living below poverty, and nearly half of residents living in deep poverty (less than 50% of the poverty threshold). While the senior poverty rate for Ohio is only 8 percent, 41 percent of seniors in Central live below poverty. These indicators paint a dismal picture of the Central Neighborhood.






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HHSA Committee Approves Office of Homeless Services Request to Receive Federal Funding
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
August 24, 2016

The relationship between the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services was discussed at the August 17, 2016 Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Service and Aging committee meeting. Ruth Gillett, manager of the Office of Homeless Services, testified and requested authorization of a consolidated federal grant from HUD of over $971,000 to help cover costs of sheltering hundreds of individuals who face chronic homelessness and severe mental illness and are in need of housing options. The county works with nonprofit and for-profit landlords to identify rooms that can serve as temporary housing for individuals who are in need of shelter.

Council members had a number of questions for the Director regarding homeless services. One question, posed by County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell, centered on whether or not those who are given shelter under the program necessarily have to live in single occupancy apartments, or if they can be paired with someone else, in an effort to maximize the impact of the program. Ms. Gillett responded by saying that there are guidelines for assignment of rooms based on availability, including if the person/people requesting a room is part of a family. She added that there are a number of projects that are under construction from now through the middle of 2018 that will provide additional beds to address the wait list of individuals in need of housing. She talked about the current admission assignment procedure, which is tracked by a HUD audit, which ensures that those who have the most need for housing (including those that have a mental illness or physical disability) and those who face the largest obstacles to attaining employment, are prioritized to receive shelter. 




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Ohio Announces Initial Approval of HCBS Transition Plan
Rose Frech, Research Fellow
June 8, 2016

On Monday, June 6th, the Ohio Office of Health Transformation released a statement announcing the recent initial approval of the state’s Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Transition Plan, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The plan, submitted originally in March, 2015, was developed in response to new CMS rules for states operating 1915(c) HCBS Medicaid waivers. The new rules are intended to increase the quality of HCBS settings, enhance person-centered planning, and maximize opportunities for waiver participants to interact with the community and live and work in the most integrated settings possible (see text box for details). In short, states may not use federal Medicaid funds to support HCBS settings that do not comply with the new rules and that have institution-like qualities. These regulations have garnered significant attention from providers, consumers, and family members as they will have a substantial impact on adult day programs, sheltered workshops, and HCBS residential settings.


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Poverty is Everywhere…Even in Geauga County
By Rose Frech, Fellow

March 3, 2016 

According to the most recent data made available by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), Cuyahoga County is home to the greatest number of low-income residents in the state. About 18 percent of the population lives at or below the poverty threshold, about $19,000 for a family of three. In the city of Cleveland, it’s 35 percent. And it’s not just Cleveland that’s struggling. Poverty rates are staggering in many of Ohio’s major cities.

In contrast, neighboring rural Geauga County has a median household income of nearly $70,000 per year (it’s about $44,000 in Cuyahoga County), and poverty sits at about 8 percent, far below the state average. Their schools are high-rated, and the county’s unemployment rate is only 3 percent.



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Living on $2 A Day
By John R. Corlett, President and Executive Director
October 29, 2015

About a year ago I did something that I hadn’t done before. I came back to work at an organization I had left at the end of 2007 — The Center for Community Solutions. I was fortunate enough to return as the President and Executive Director. During my previous time at CCS, I had worked on many policy/advocacy issues related to the local implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, more popularly known as “welfare reform.” Some of the advocacy work we did was successful, but on some of the larger issues like time limits for cash assistance, we weren’t successful. 

Since being back at CCS, I have had a few Aha! moments. One of them was while I was at a meeting with Cuyahoga County officials and it was reported that there were approximately 1,500 adults remaining on the caseload of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. I was stunned because, when I had left Community Solutions towards the end of the last decade, there were 10 times that many people on the caseload. Some of them have been forced from the rolls by Ohio’s three-year time limit, while likely an equal number got tossed from the program after being sanctioned for various infractions. States became more likely to sanction after changes in federal TANF rules had the effect of requiring larger numbers of recipients to be working 20-30 hours a week. 

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County Executive Armond Budish Presents Proposed Two-Year Cuyahoga County Budget to County Council

By John R. Corlett, President and Executive Director
October 16, 2015

On Tuesday Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish went before Cuyahoga County Council to kick off the public portion of the county budget process. Executive Budish began his presentation by saying that he was sending council a balanced budget that would ensure the “long term stability and success of our region.” He commented that the county’s debt and debt service was the biggest problem he inherited when he took office, and that the county was “on thin ice financially.” According to Budish, the county’s existing debt means their “credit card is maxed out,” and he was forced to find $48 million in the annual operating budget to cover funding for economic development, for maintaining county facilities, and for funding to continue the county’s effort to demolish abandoned structures that would previously been covered through a debt issuance. He said that having to fund these capital expenses and make up the $20 million opening deficit meant he had a “$68 million mountain to climb” when crafting the 2016-2017 budget.

Executive Budish said he asked county agency directors and elected officials to cut the fat, do more with less, look for ways to use county funds to leverage private investments, increase revenues without increasing taxes, and look for opportunities for reorganizations or consolidations that could save money. He said that his budget proposal accomplished this without “substantial harm to services and without any layoffs of county employees.”


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Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish Poised to Introduce His First Two-Year Budget
By John R. Corlett
President and Executive Director

October 5, 2015

At the end of this week, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish will be submitting his first two-year budget to Cuyahoga County Council for review. This will mark Executive Budish’s most significant opportunity to date to put his stamp on what county government does, and does not do. Many observers argue that how public policy makers propose to raise and spend tax revenue is the most accurate reflection of their values and priorities.


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