ORIGINAL MONDAY REPORT: Another special election will be ahead in April if the King County Council votes Tuesday – or shortly thereafter – to send a $1.25 billion behavioral-health levy to voters. The meeting preview says the measure would create a nine-year property tax levy to fund “four key goals,” listed as follows:
*Create five new regional crisis care centers: Distributed geographically across the county, the centers would provide walk-in access and the potential for short-term stays to help people stabilize, depending on needs, with one center specifically serving youth.
*Preserve and restore the dramatic loss of residential treatment beds: In 2018, 355 beds providing community-based residential care for people with mental health residential needs existed in King County. Today, only 244 of these beds are available.
*Grow the behavioral health workforce pipeline: The proposal would create career pathways through apprenticeship programming and access to higher education, credentialing, training, and wrap-around supports. It would also invest in equitable wages for the workforce at crisis care centers.
*Provide immediate services while centers are being constructed: The proposal would also use initial proceeds to quickly create mobile or site-based crisis behavioral health services that can operate until the first crisis care centers open. This bridge strategy would complement recent state and federally-funded-mobile crisis teams.
The need for these services has expanded greatly in recent years, according to sponsors. They elaborate in the full text of the proposal going before county councilmembers at 1 pm Tuesday, which you can read here (page 50). If passed as written, the levy would cost the owner of a median-priced King County home – $694,000 in 2021 valuations – $10 a month in 2024. You can comment to the council before or during the hybrid (online and in-person downtown) meeting; the agenda explains how.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Per a statement from the County Executive’s Office, the county council did indeed approve sending the levy to voters in April.