Letters to the Editor

Some taxes pay dividends

If you are angry or reacting to radio and television pundits, negative campaign ads or emotional rhetoric, please consider sitting back to think through candidate platforms. Think about how they best address and serve our communities and what the consequences of their implementation might be.

Consider the Island County commissioner race between John Dean and Kelly Emerson. I want to focus on the 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax that was approved by our county commissioners, two of whom were Republican. They did so because state funds to provide human services were being severely cut and the legislature provided a means for individual counties to step up and assist people who were falling through the cracks. According to a recent newspaper article, Ms. Emerson thinks these services are a failure and would like to repeal the program. She apparently believes that this would be of greater benefit to our community.

As a member of the Island County Advisory Committee for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, I know that Ms. Emerson has never spoken with the county program directors, or visited any site associated with these services. John Dean sees these programs as being integral to his effectiveness as a commissioner and essential to the well being of our community. For example, the school-based mental health program, which is serving all four school districts, helped over 5,000 students last year; and the vulnerable adult program, which is staffed by a part-time person, who receives most of their referrals from law enforcement; and the newest program started this past April which provides mental health counseling for those who don’t qualify for publicly funded mental health services or don’t have insurance. To date, it has served more than 80 individuals. Additionally, these funds help support youth and adult drug courts and family therapeutic court.

We read and hear through the media that many people are angry and are voting for candidates they think will lower taxes and end government as we know it. When I apply that reasoning to the 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax, what I see is thousands of people being cast out into our local communities without a lifejacket.

Thank you for your careful consideration of these issues.

Jan Pickard


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