It’s been said that how you spend your money reflects your values. That’s certainly true of the proposed biennial budget I presented to the Council earlier this week.
I’m very proud of how all of you have responded to and cared for our residents over the last 18 tumultuous months, and that important work will continue. At the same time, we have significant needs in our community, made even more critical due to the devastating effects of the pandemic. We are building on the innovation and partnerships that were key to our success in supporting our community.
As I mentioned to the Council, we have focused on three important priorities: public safety, housing and homelessness, and behavioral health.
The proposed $3 billion budget makes unprecedented investments in creating new shelter capacity and supportive housing, as well as more affordable housing. Funds are allocated to increase access for residents to critically needed mental health care and addiction treatment. A rapid response team of behavioral health experts would be formed to respond to non-violent 9-1-1 calls. We are increasing our investment in the Sheriff’s department with funds to support hiring more deputies, promoting their wellness, and resolving any complaints against our deputies more thoroughly and quickly.
There isn’t space in this blog to go into greater detail, but we’ve created an Executive Summary to provide the budget highlights to you and our community. You can read it here: https://issuu.com/pierceco/docs/executive_summary
For those of you who want to read the budget cover-to-cover, you can read entire proposed biennial budget at https://www.piercecountywa.gov/budget
And, lastly, I invite you to pop some popcorn and enjoy a favorite beverage as you watch my presentation to the Council last Tuesday:
It was an honor to represent you and your commitment to public service, and I look forward to working with the Council as they begin their deliberative process.
Creating a two-year budget is a huge undertaking and I’m grateful to the many people who created it. From our colleagues who came with innovative approaches, to the department finance teams and the directors, to the members of the Executive team and the Finance Department, I appreciate everyone’s diligence and hard work. I’m especially grateful to Gary Robinson and Julie Demuth for their amazing dedication and attention to detail.
Another highlight from this week was the employee Town Hall I hosted on Wednesday. We asked for your questions in advance, and you didn’t hesitate! I think we received a record number of questions! At the top of the list were questions about vaccines, mandates, masks, and related pandemic topics. You also wanted to hear about long-term care insurance, DEI, and retirements.
As I mentioned during the Town Hall, it all comes down to respect. I’m fully vaccinated and certainly encourage everyone to do their research and get the jab. However, I know that some of our colleagues choose not to do so, whether for medical or other reasons. Let’s create an environment where we listen to each other and give one another the grace and respect to make the decision that’s right for them.
You can watch the Town Hall at https://vimeo.com/612051268 and in the days ahead we will post the answers to the questions we didn’t get to.
One last plug: next Monday night at 6:30 p.m. we are co-hosting a community conversation about Blue Zones, a program focused on wellness and longevity. You can learn more about this fascinating program, and sign up for the Zoom gathering, at: https://www.bluezones.com/pierce-county/
Thanks for reading,