Budget Proposal Impacts on the KP

The Pierce County executive proposed budget amendments last month on a number of issues that are important to the Key Peninsula.

Despite the addition of 10 sheriff’s deputy positions since I joined the council, a recent study showed Pierce County is still short 65 positions. Seventy-nine percent of our general fund is already dedicated to public safety and justice services, more than almost any other county.

Unfortunately, that still leaves us with response times in rural areas that are unacceptable. That’s why the executive and I are proposing the addition of a new deputy dedicated to the Peninsula Detachment. This would be in addition to the county’s new property crime unit and community policing deputies added over the last two years.

You may recall that the council received a number of recommendations for the Behavioral Health Bill after a study reinforced the need for one last year. After the failure of the bill in December, the council began looking at what we could implement now without new revenue. Fortunately, it looks like the executive and council are on the same page. With sales tax dollars coming in higher than expected in the last quarter and a number of budget savings here and there, we can afford to make some improvements without new revenue.

Funded in the proposed supplemental budget are mobile behavioral health response teams to serve both urban and rural areas, a new 16-bed inpatient crisis facility, housing for homeless veterans and support for the new 120-bed psychiatric hospital. These improvements would fill some of the gaps in the system, but not all.

Last, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department now shares an office with the Key Peninsula Community Council and Safe Streets in the space formerly occupied by The Mustard Seed Project in the Key Center Corral.

You can get help there with:

—Financial incentives for septic system inspections.

—Water-quality information on bays and streams.

—Other health department services.

The health department office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays. We’d love to hear what other services you want on the Key Peninsula. Call 253-432-4948. For more information, call my office at 253-798-6654 or go to www.piercecountywa.org/FormCenter.

Derek Young represents the 7th District, including the Key Peninsula, on the Pierce County Council.