Letters to the Editor

Concerned about use of mental health tax

I appreciate that the county is planning to implement and support alternative programs for mentally ill community members in addition to a new jail. I’m a little concerned about the talk of a new tax, since I believe there is already one in place for this very purpose. In response to public pressure, the county executive approved a 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax in January of 2009 to be used specifically for chemical dependency or mental health treatment services. I requested an accounting of the sales tax in 2012, and at that time there was a fund balance of over $6 million (starting the year with a balance of $4.7 million). It appeared that expenditures for mental health and addiction services would be around $1.5 million for 2012. It was not clear why the county was hoarding the tax revenues, but since the jail was being discussed at that time, I assumed it was being put away to help pay for the jail or jail services. I would like to know more about why this current mental health/addiction services tax is insufficient for the purposes for which it was implemented.

Kate Clark