The King County Council Passes $1.25 Billion Crisis Care Center Tax

The King County Council Passes $1.25 Billion Crisis Care Center Tax

The development of a new tax enabling the county to finance a unique network of crisis care facilities will be put to the vote by King County voters. The proposal calls for a nine-year 15-cent per $1,000 assessed value property tax levy, projected to bring in about $1.25 billion between 2024 and 2032.

Supporters of the so-called “Crisis Care Centers Levy” claim that the funds would replenish the capacity of residential mental health treatment facilities to 2017 levels and offer crucial resources for five behavioral health facilities, one dedicated toward children. The monies would also be utilized to implement new recruitment and retention initiatives for the region’s behavioral health staff.

In King County, there were 355 beds for community-based residential care for adults with mental health residential requirements in 2018. According to the council, just 244 of these beds are accessible right now. Additionally, the county reports that in 2021, over 900 patients with behavioral health issues were forced to wait two days in emergency rooms due to a lack of treatment beds.

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According to Michelle McDaniel, CEO of Crisis Connections, this has caused people to rely on alternative treatment options that cannot handle urgent mental health and substance misuse treatments. With the additional funding for behavioral health facilities, EMTs, the police, and hospitals would not have to deal with as many of these individuals.

Our community turns to first responders, such as 911 and police officers, when a mental health or drug use issue worsens, one effect of this loss of resources and trained staff, according to the statement. This is not a solution, according to McDaniels. “We fail people in crises, and we fail people in our communities as long as we misuse emergency rooms, jails, and law enforcement as mental health providers.”

Sponsors estimated that the tax would cost the owner of a Seattle property valued at the median of $121, or roughly $10 each month. Both the King County Regional Policy Committee and the King County Council unanimously approved the proposed ballot initiative, which will now be put before voters in April.

“The system is not geared up to respond with all the resources and assistance required to deal with the issue. In support of the initiative, Councilmember Sarah Perry said, “We’re spending $100 million a year right now, and things are getting worse, so when we’re thinking about the expense of this, this $100 million a year, we’re thinking about the cost. Therefore, this is a much more effective and efficient use of our tax money. We don’t just keep turning the wheel and returning home, though.

People with mental or behavioral health issues could get urgent therapy and other support at the walk-in centers. Dow Constantine, the executive of King County, praised the council’s decision and noted that the country’s capacity to address issues like homelessness, violence and drug usage would be significantly aided by the funding.

“The mental health epidemic is intersectional; it manifests itself in our neighborhoods, jails, and streets. According to Constantine, we can find solutions for other crucial areas, such as public safety, public health, and homelessness, by enhancing and investing in our system for dealing with behavioral health crises. “The Crisis Care Centers Levy is how we help people get from crisis to recovery and guarantee they get the essential support to start recovering their lives,” said the Crisis Care Centers.

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After the special election in February to decide on I-135, a measure that would establish a new public housing developer in Seattle, the special election in April will be the second vote of the year for Seattle voters. After receiving council approval, the plan will be on the ballot for the April 25 special election.

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