KING COUNTY, Wash. (KOMO) — King County Executive Dow Constantine is making a final pitch for a $1.25 billion property tax levy which he said would ease the mental health and drug counseling deficits in the region.
The King County Council is expected to pass the measure on Tuesday and send it to voters in an April special election.
Constantine acknowledged during an interview that it is both costly and a big request of voters, but would create five new regional crisis centers that provide walk-in access. Currently, there is only one 46-bed crisis center in the county of 2.3 million people.
The proposal is sponsored by three council members who said this could be a national model to address the mental health crisis.
"It is a staggering cost right now, and I think this will make a huge difference," Councilmember Sarah Perry said. "A staggering cost in not doing this."
Sponsors say that would cost the owner of a median-valued home in Seattle $121 in 2024 or about $10 a month. According to Forbes, the median price for a home in Seattle in 2022 was $845,000.
King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay said, in an interview, that “There is no issue I hear about more” than the behavioral health crisis.
Zahilay said the centers will be placed in east King County, north King County, south King County, and Seattle. The fifth center would be geared toward youth.
The money would also be used to create "career pathways" and "opportunities for higher education and training" for receipents and fund other immediate services while the centers are under construction.
In 2021, according to the county, more than 900 people in emergency rooms waited for two days because they did not have beds for treatment available.