Pierce County Council rejects proposed ordinance for a mental health sales tax

TACOMA -- The Pierce County Council on Tuesday night rejected a measure that would have authorized a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax to improve mental health services in the county.

The vote was 4-3 for the proposed ordinance, but a supermajority of five members was needed to pass the tax.

The vote came after months of public feedback on behavioral health issues facing Pierce County.

Pierce County said it was estimated that in 2018, the average amount paid by each person in the county would have been about $17 a year, which would have raised approximately $11 million annually.

Some council members say a recent mental health study proves the funding is necessary.

The study is based on cases per capita.  It shows Pierce County is worse off when it comes to the suicide rate and violent crime compared to the state average.  According to some County Council members, it’s all linked to a lack of mental health resources.

Supporters of the proposal say the money would have gone to train law enforcement, create mental health services in the judicial system and provide housing for those with behavioral health issues, along with other measures.