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Ottawa County commissioner to decide on future of mental health services

With Erie County planning to form their own mental health board, Ottawa County's best option may be joining the existing mental health board for 3 nearby counties.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio — Ottawa County officials will soon need to find a new partner for mental health services for county residents.

For decades, Ottawa County has been a part of a joint mental health board with Erie County.

Ohio has a minimum threshold of 50,000 residents to have an independent county mental health board. Erie County officials intend to establish the county's own board soon.

Ottawa County commissioners are now weighing the pros and cons of joining the neighboring Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties.

"[To] be able to share some economies of scale and so forth. And the goal is, here again, the taxpayer dollars that we are using, get those to the people that need it," said Ottawa County Commissioner Donald Douglas. 

A scheduled public hearing on the matter will be held Wednesday, May 12, at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

The goal will be to transition to the new board by July 1, so any patients would see no disruption in services.

According to Douglas, the financial structure of the new mental health board will be more equitable for all involved.

"Tax dollars don't get divvied up and then spread across, in this case, all four counties. Tax dollars generated by Ottawa County go into the Ottawa County silo and they will be spent on people requiring services within Ottawa County," explained Douglas.

Douglas says provider contract negotiations are already underway in the event Ottawa County does decide to join the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties.

The commissioner would like to have their decision made, and a proposal forwarded to Columbus for state approval by Friday, May 14.