County tax will help mentally ill

Published on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 by Coral Garnick

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County tax will help mentally ill

By Coral Garnick

After a four and a half hour public hearing, Whatcom County Council voted to impose a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax that would provide new or expanded chemical dependency or mental health treatment services and for the operation of new or expanded therapeutic court programs.

The council heard from 67 county and hospital employees and members of the community that have dealt with the mentally ill or chemically dependent, whether in their own life or in the life of friends or family.

Those individuals were unanimously in favor of the ordinance, and told the council it was just “the right thing to do.”

With a 3-4 vote, with council member Sam Crawford – who is usually publicly against increased taxation – as the deciding vote, the council received applause and a standing ovation from the many residents of the community that chose to stay throughout the entire discussion.
The room was quickly silenced however by county executive Pete Kremen and his short speech about how the community came together and made a very compelling case, but that he is “really going to have to think about the issue.”

He promised the county, mostly council member Laurie Caskey-Schreiber not to immediately veto the council's decision though.
Kremen said he will announce his decision by the end of the week.