Pierce shoppers, residents paying more for behavioral health, sewers

The public is shouldering new costs for behavioral health and sewer service in Pierce County.

A tax to increase behavioral health services will take effect July 1. The one-10th of 1 percent increase of the county’s sales tax will fund behavioral health and therapeutic court services. It was approved by the County Council and the county executive, and plans for using the money received additional approvals from national and state authorities.

A county-level Behavioral Health Advisory Board will oversee distribution of federal Medicaid dollars in Pierce County. Officials said revenue from the sales tax increase, an estimated $12 million annually, will fill the gaps not covered by the program or Medicaid.

The additional tax is scheduled to end Dec. 31, 2027 unless the council extends it.

The overall effort will help the county “build a better healthcare system,” said Councilman Dave Morell. He added, “We have protected taxpayers by requiring development of a strategic plan for behavioral-health response, including a performance audit review, and a (way) to show where the money is being spent.”

Meanwhile, county sewer customers have seen a 3.75 percent increase in their sewer rates starting Jan. 1. There was also a rate increase in 2020.

Single-family homes will pay $53.89 monthly, up from $51.94 in 2020. Multi-family customers will pay $47.08 each month, up from $45.38. Commercial customers will pay a basic service charge of $16.13 each month, up from $15.55. Commercial service charges vary.

Additonal information is available at www.piercecountywa.gov/sewer-rates.

Daily sewage treatment countywide has gone from 5 million 1984 to more than 19 million gallons in 2020 and is expected to continue to increase with population growth. Sewer rates pay for maintenance and operations of the sewer system that serves 314,000 customers in Parkland, Spanaway, Midland, South Hill, Graham, Frederickson, Tehaleh, Browns Point-Dash Point, University Place, Lakewood, DuPont, Milton, Steilacoom and portions of Tacoma, Edgewood and Fife.