Benton County commissioners vote to pass a tax ordinance for mental health services

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — Benton County commissioners voted to pass an ordinance on a tax for chemical dependency and mental health services Tuesday morning at a meeting in Prosser.

The authorized 0.1% sales and use tax would go toward providing help and programs for Tri-Citians battling addiction and other critical mental health issues.

Two commissioners, Jerome Delvin and Shon Small, voted yes while Will McKay voted no.

While all three agree having a mental health facility is important, they disagree on how it should be funded.

“My goal is that for the first 24 hours the county covers the cost of whoever walks in that door so no one is ever turned away,” Delvin said. “It’s a tenth of a cent on every dollar so if you buy $100 dollars you’ll be paying a dollar. I think the community sees the need for the funding and the crisis recovery center.”

But McKay believes they should turn to other places like grants or the Ben Franklin Transit board for funding.

READ: BFT, county officials discussing potential tax revenue cuts to support mental health

“I’m for the mental facility 100% but just not for the tax increase just because I think there’s other venues, other ideas, places we can grab some funding to get the ball rolling basically,” McKay said. “I think it should be up to the voters at the end of the day where they want to put their money.”

Delvin disagrees, noting that it’s a small raise for a big impact on the community.

“We’re going to put an advisory group together made up of citizens, electeds and treatment providers, and ER doctors, because we want a good broad base of the community that has to deal with these types of issues,” Delvin said.

The project is still around four to five years away but because the ordinance passed, you could see it go into effect on July 1, 2022.

The facility would potentially be at the Trios facility on Auburn St. in Kennewick.

RELATED: Benton County leaders will meet to discuss Recovery Center proposal