Clay County voters to decide on creation of children’s services - KCTV5 News

Clay County voters to decide on creation of children’s services fund

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Clay County voters will head to the polls this month to decide whether or not to pass a one-fourth cent sales tax to create a children’s services fund.

If Proposition 1 is passed, one penny out of every $4 spent in Clay County would go into the children’s services fund.

An estimated $8 million would be generated each year.

Synergy Services Children’s Center is an emergency placement shelter for children and teens in crisis.

Every year in Clay County, agencies like Synergy Services turn away more than 21,000 young people because they don’t have the capacity to serve them.  

“Being on that phone and having to tell someone, ‘We don't have a bed available for you’ or ‘The waiting list is really long,’” recalled Dennis Meier, Associate Executive Director at Synergy Services.

Proposition 1 supporters want to close service gaps for children in need in Clay County.

They say the money in the fund would be used to provide early intervention through emergency shelter, mental health services, treatment for substance abuse, and prevention services. 

“I plan to vote against it,” said Diana Jones. “It is not that I'm against children.”

However, some opponents of Proposition 1 believe the ballot language is vague. They question how the money would be spent.

“There were about eight different things they were going to fight,” said Jones. “I just think first they need to find out what our greatest need is.”

A volunteer board appointed by county commissioners would decide which public or not-for-profit agencies would receive money from the children’s services fund. Those volunteers cannot have a financial interest in a recipient of the funds.

“I don't know who they would choose,” Jones said. “I don't know if they would have people step forward who have agendas of their own.”

Supporters say nearby counties, including St. Charles County, that established children's services funds have seen significant improvements.

“Reduction in school dropout, reduction in teen pregnancy, reduction in runaway homeless youth,” Meier explained. “We are excited about getting ahead of the curve and providing early intervention to those kids who need it.”

Clay County voters can make their voices heard on the issue on August 8.

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