County Commissioners approve mental health tax funding recommendations

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners recently approved the allocation of $5.5 million in funds generated from the 1/10th of 1 percent sales and use tax designated for mental health, chemical dependency and therapeutic court services countywide.

“These awards help fill funding gaps and go directly to support programs and services that serve those suffering from mental illness or drug and alcohol dependency,” said Charlotte Garrido, chairperson of the board. “Developing a more systematic approach through a continuum of care model diverts individuals from hospitals, jail and the courts into crisis intervention and therapeutic services. This directly benefits the individuals and our communities.”

Fifteen funded programs are a continuation from the current year. They include therapeutic court programs such as behavioral health court, juvenile individualized and drug courts, adult drug court, and veterans courts. Law enforcement received funding for programs that include crisis intervention training, hiring a crisis intervention officer to coordinate response for behavioral health calls, and for reentry services in the jail.

Eight programs approved for funding are new. They include the city of Poulsbo and Poulsbo Fire Department to implement Kitsap County Fire CARES (Community Assistance, Referral and Education Services). Peninsula Community Health Services will provide an integrated care coordination program with wraparound services, behavioral health and primary care services.

Five projects, including those for Kitsap Rescue Mission and Kitsap Homes of Compassion, focus on housing and hiring specialists to support individuals with behavioral health issues.

The awards follow the recommendations of the Kitsap County Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Committee, a county news release says. The commissioner-appointed, 11-member committee voted to recommend $5.5 million in funding for a 12-month period for 23 of the 26 proposals submitted. A total of $7.2 million was requested.

Jeannie Screws, committee chairperson, said: “The committee considered each proposal in relation to the county’s continuum of care, strategic plan for services and available funds. The process was extremely difficult due to the needs of the community being even greater this year and funding lower than anticipated.”