Vote Yes on November 7
THE MENTAL HEALTH AND PUBLIC SAFETY MILLAGE WILL PROVIDE:
Help people in mental health crises by providing appropriate treatment programs, and giving them continued support after the immediate crisis has ended, instead of locking them up in jail.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Provide mental health treatment services to adults and children with severe mental illness and developmental disabilities who
do not currently qualify for services due to lack of insurance.
PREVENTION AND TRAINING
Support mental health awareness, prevention, and early intervention training for schools, law enforcement and other first responders, and our health care providers.
TREATMENT FOR THE INCARCERATED
Provide mental health and substance abuse treatment in jails, including counseling and psychiatric services, and re-entry programs to help people successfully return to our communities.
Implement the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program to ensure people accused of low-level drug offenses get supportive services instead of jail and prosecution
I’ve heard talk about a mental health crisis. What does that mean specifically?
The mental health issues we’re talking about manifest in a number of ways. For example, from 2015 to 2016, we’ve seen significant increases in:
- 20% increase in overall suicides
- 400% increase in suicides among young people
- Opioid-related deaths and hospitalizations
- More than one opioid-related death per week in Washtenaw County
- 900% increase in opioid-related deaths among young people
- More than a 100% increase in ER visits for opioid-related overdoses
We’ve also seen long waits for treatment in hospitals and outpatient settings. In spring of 2016, we saw:
- Michigan Medicine Psychiatric Emergency Services report an average wait time of 12 hours for admission or transfer.
- 68% of outpatient service providers had waitlists for services
- Average wait time was 3 weeks
- Longest wait time was 4 months
The effects are also evident among the homeless and County Jail populations:
- 25% increase in serious mental illness among homeless in Washtenaw County
- 20% increase in substance use disorder among homeless in Washtenaw County
- At any given time, 56% of County Jail inmates are on psychotropic medication
Why do we need a millage?
The short answer is that we’re seeing the need for mental health services increase as funding for these services decreases.
In recent years, state budget cuts have dramatically reduced funding for mental health services. Lansing has cut funding for Community Mental Health (CMH) by 60% since 2014, from $6.5 million to $2.7 million annually.
Public safety funding has experienced a similar shortfall. Over the past eight years, the cost of providing public safety service to local units of government has increased 40% while the amount these localities pay in their contracts with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) has only increased by 10%.
These cuts have negatively impacted staffing and service levels at CMH. Since 2015, CMH has lost 70 clinical, vocational, and administrative staff members. Since 2014, CMH has discharged 350 people from receiving services. Without additional dedicated funding for CMH and WCSO, service and staffing levels are likely to see deep cuts in the coming years.
What are millages and how do they work?
A millage is a way of collecting property taxes for a specific purpose—often schools or roads or, in this case, mental health and public safety. The current millage is 1 mill, which is equal to $1 of tax for every $1,000 of the taxable value of a home (taxable value is almost always half the value of a home’s market value). For example, if your home is worth $200,000, its taxable value is $100,000, and you would pay $100 per year for this millage.
How much will this millage raise and where will it go?
The millage is projected to raise roughly $15.4 million per year. The language of the millage dictates that money raised will be distributed according to the following formula:
- 38% (roughly $5.86 million) to Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (CMH)
- 38% (roughly $5.86 million) to Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO)
- 24% (roughly $3.7 million) rebated to localities with their own police departments
How will money raised for this millage be spent?
The overall goal of the millage is to provide CMH and WCSO with the resources to handle mental health issues proactively. It also enables them to share resources and coordinate services more effectively. Specifically, we will focus on:
- Community Mental Health
- Crisis: Addressing mental health and substance abuse crises, which include immediate crisis assessment, referral, treatment, and diversion from jail or emergency departments. Additionally, funds will be used for supportive services post-crisis.
- Stabilization: Providing mental health services to adults and children with severe mental illness and/or developmental disabilities who do not currently qualify for services—whether due to insurance status, unaffordable deductibles, or because traditional outpatient treatment is not adequate.
- Prevention: Supporting mental health awareness, prevention, and early intervention programming for use in working with community partners, including schools, law enforcement and other first responders, and health care providers.
- Jail Services: Includes mental health and substance abuse assessment and treatment inclusive of counseling and psychiatric services and prisoner re-entry with a focus on case management.
- Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office
- Training programs for public safety officers so they can respond effectively when facing a mental health-related issue
- Diversion programs to move low-level offenders with mental health issues out of the law enforcement system and into the CMH system for services
- Local Rebate
- State law requires that the County Commission rebate any funds generated by the millage to the localities’ general funds. Decisions on how to spend rebate money are solely at the discretion of the city or township council.
For more information, please visit www.yesonwashtenawmentalhealth.com.