Now that the Leon County Commission has signaled support for a ballot initiate that would fund a Children’s Services Council (CSC) through an increase in property taxes, voters will soon have to decide if such an organization is needed.
The creation of a council means Leon County citizens will be asked to support $7-8 million in new taxes to finance an organization with the sole mission of addressing children issues.
The Greater Tallahassee Chamber recently took the position that a needs assessment should be completed before moving forward.
Is there evidence that a CSC is needed in Leon County?
When the issue was discussed at the Leon County Commission meeting, Commissioner Lindley, while supportive of the idea said , “We don’t know exactly what the money would go for, who would do it. There are just a lot of questions.”
Commissioner John Dailey said that a CSC could address issues from crime to economic and health care disparities.
It was reported by the Tallahassee Democrat that Kelly Otte, executive director of PACE Leon, said a CSC would help address issues including childhood starvation and poverty.
Mimi Graham, director of Florida State University’s Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy, said the CSC’s approved in nine other counties have been tremendously successful.
Publicly available information shows that Leon County ranks pretty well when comparing child well-being statistics to other Florida counties.
For example, according to the 2017 Florida Kids Count Child Well-being Index, Leon County ranks 18th out of 67 counties in the state of Florida. This ranking is better than 70% of all counties.
Also, these rankings show that Leon County is doing better than seven of the nine counties that currently fund a CSC.
A needs assessment will provide more detailed information about what children outcomes could be improved and identify what service areas are not currently being effectively addressed by the Leon County non-profit community.
This information will be valuable for voters who will be asked to support a new tax for a CSC.