A press release from Pierce County.
Executive Bruce Dammeier presented his proposed 2022-2023 biennial budget to the Pierce County Council today. The nearly $3 billion budget prioritizes funding for public safety and justice, attainable housing, and behavioral health.
“Since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in our community in March 2020, we have battled to contain the virus and respond to its destructive effects,” said Dammeier. “I am proud of our response to the emergency, and this budget supports our continued response. At the same time, we are primarily focused on strengthening our communities for the long-term.”
Most County funding is dedicated to keeping residents safe, equitably administering criminal justice, and staying accountable to County residents. Consequently, the proposed 2022-2023 biennial budget includes support for law enforcement, the courts and the Prosecutor’s Office to address rising crime levels and to promote equitable justice.
The proposed budget includes $2 million to complete the body camera and dash camera project, $8 million to resolve blighted properties, and funds to add a new wellness program manager tasked with helping deputies manage the complexity and stress of law enforcement. In addition, more than $1 million is placed in the budget to create a new Rapid Response Team comprised of behavioral health professionals who will be sent into the community to effectively resolve non-criminal situations with compassion.
Reflecting the influx of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, Dammeier proposed more than $26 million in shelter expansion and services for unhoused people. In addition, another $55 million is allocated to develop and preserve affordable housing in the County.
“No resident of Pierce County should be without a clean, safe place to live,” said Dammeier. “That’s why I am proposing a significant expansion of our shelter capacity and the creation of hundreds of new units of attainable housing. We are committed to helping people move into an affordable place to call home.”
The last 18 months of the pandemic have demonstrated the need to take care of one’s physical and mental health. Although investments in behavioral healthcare in Pierce County have significantly increased over the last four years, there is more to do. Consequently, a significant portion of the proposed biennial budget is devoted to helping County residents live their healthiest and happiest lives.
The budget as proposed includes nearly $27 million to expand behavioral health services and more than $18 million to expand and maintain the County’s extensive trail system and improve ADA accessibility in Pierce County parks. In addition, nearly $2 million is in the budget to create more than a dozen new positions to directly support the County’s aging and disabled communities.
Several initiatives have been proposed in the biennial budget to advance the County’s work to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive region. Programs include a small business accelerator focused on business owners from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities as well as tribal partnerships with the four sovereign nations in the region. An expanded paid internship program would provide learning opportunities for young adults in the County, especially those of color, and create a potential path to full-time employment.
To make progress on the County’s Sustainability 2030 Plan, the Executive placed nearly $22 million in the budget to preserve open space, repair habitats, better manage forests, accelerate electric vehicle purchases and other related projects.
The full budget document and an abbreviated executive summary may be found at www.piercecountywa.gov/budget.