Pierce County Council announcement.
The Pierce County Council adopted the county’s nearly $3 billion biennial budget Tuesday, making critical investments to handle growth and establish a framework to build back stronger than before the pandemic.
“Over the last two years we responded quickly to the changing environment presented by the pandemic, promoting and supporting businesses through innovative programs like the Pierce County Restaurant Rally, a business accelerator focused on minority-owned businesses, and quickly passing through federal rent and mortgage assistance to keep residents housed,” said Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young.
“As we look to the next two years, we are focused on strategic investments in infrastructure, including $15 million for broadband expansion to underserved communities, while making sure we have supports in place to help people continue to navigate the uncertainty caused by the public health crisis.”
The adopted budget commits significant funding to improve access to affordable housing and tackle the growing homeless crisis. More than $200 million is earmarked for various programs and proposals over the next two years, making it the largest pledge to increase affordable housing options and homelessness support services in county history.
Some of the money will be used to more than double the amount of shelter space across the county, including no-barrier and low-barrier options, with a goal to help get people off the street.
Another first in the budget is targeted spending to address behavioral health needs through the newly adopted Behavioral Health and Therapeutic Courts sales tax. Over the biennium, nearly $27 million is available to expand behavioral health services. Included is the addition of a rapid response team composed of behavioral health professionals who will resolve non-criminal situations. Council also invested $650,000 in District Court to create another therapeutic court aimed at keeping people out of jail and offering support and accountability to help them find stability.
Council increased funding for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to adequately fund it at a level necessary to meet the public health needs of the community, including recovering from the pandemic.
To meet the county’s sustainability goals, Council funded the addition of two positions to focus on achievements and meeting benchmarks set by Council with adoption of the Sustainability 2030 Plan earlier this year. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across county operations and the larger community by 2030.
With a focus on programs for children, Council included funding to Help Me Grow to allow it to expand its Family Connect program that offers voluntary nurse support to families with newborns during a baby’s first three months of life. Council also set aside $2.5 million to be used as seed money for a future endowment fund to benefit Pierce County youth.
The biennial budget takes effect Jan. 1, 2022 pending signature by the Executive.
Find the official budget document, Ordinance No. 2021-100s2, here (note the document will be updated after tonight with amendments approved at the Nov. 23, 2021 meeting).
Source: The Suburban Times