Amid pandemic, Butler County voters overwhelmingly approve senior services levy
In November, Butler County voters overwhelmingly approved a renewal of the county’s senior services tax levy. The levy is the primary funding source for the county’s Elderly Services Program (ESP). Annually, ESP helps more than 4,000 older adults with disabilities remain in their own homes with independence and dignity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ESP has been an important resource for people who never before needed help.
Since 1996, voters in Butler County have shown strong support for the senior services levy, but 2020 was a record-breaker. Nearly 77 percent of voters on election day voted in favor of the levy, an increase of three percentage points from the levy’s last renewal in 2015, and a 19 point increase since the first levy in 1996.
Even with strong historical support, the committee that worked to pass the levy took nothing for granted. The 2020 election presented unique challenges with a presidential election at the top of the ballot and a lot of uncertainty related to COVID-19. Campaign volunteers attended zoom meetings instead of city council meetings to share information about the levy and hosted socially distanced honk and waves. Volunteers helped assemble and distribute 2,000 yard signs and install 75 larger signs and showed up at polling locations on election day.
“Voters in Butler County understand the important role this levy plays in our county,” said David Mancuso, chair of the committee that worked to pass the levy. “It benefits everyone – from older adults who want to stay in their homes as they age, to family caregivers struggling to juggle the responsibilities of family, career and elder caregiving. ESP even helps our local economy by providing supplemental care that helps family caregivers stay focused on work, instead of sidelined by caregiving responsibilities.”
ESP and Council on Aging (COA) - the Area Agency on Aging for Butler County and ESP's administrator - have been an important support network for Butler County older adults during the pandemic. Together, ESP and COA provided 3,858
14-day emergency food boxes to ESP clients. An additional 4,300 "comfort” meals were delivered to county older adults who live in low-income apartment buildings. The meals came from LaRosa's, Taste of Belgium, Frisch's, C&M BBQ Grille and Hamilton’s own Neal’s Famous BBQ, through a partnership with Council on Aging. Personal care supplies, including toilet paper and cleaning supplies, along with masks and hand sanitizer, were also provided to Butler County older adults.
With any luck, 2021 will mark the end of the pandemic. But thanks to the generous support of county voters, ESP will continue to be an important resource for older adults and families during the pandemic and beyond.