Clark County is set to distribute millions for mental health and addiction projects

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For every $100 of sales tax collected in Clark County — when you buy groceries, a car, bulk lumber, whatever — a penny is set aside to help people with health issues. behavioral.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, more than $11 million of this fund is available for local nonprofits, governments and private businesses to apply for grants.

The Clark County Mental Health Sales Tax Fund Advisory Board is meeting this month to consider dozens of proposals that under state law must be efforts to help fight against substance abuse and mental health.

The size of the fund makes it an uncommon year, county staff said.

“It’s usually between $3 and $5 (million),” said Lindsey Hueer, senior policy analyst at the county. “So it’s a lot bigger this year.”

The county received 18 submissions from 17 entities, county staff told the OPB. Details of those proposals weren’t readily available, but staffers said there was a wide range of what the applicants plan to do with the funding. Proposals include hiring addiction counselors, creating a program involving therapy animals, and building a “therapy garden space” at a local facility.

Proposals also vary in dollar amounts. Hueer said the range was $60,000 to $2.7 million.

The public will have no say in how the funds are spent. Ultimately, Clark County Council will decide. An advisory board — which includes two advisers, court administrators and public health officials — makes recommendations.

Councilor Gary Medvigy, who sits on the advisory board with fellow councilor Karen Bowerman, said he was encouraged by the number of proposals he’s seen.

“We work like gangbusters to get that money spent,” Medvigy said.

The pot of mental health sales tax dollars was actually closer to $17 million, Hueer said, but the county needs to set aside a percentage as a reserve and some has already been set aside for other expenses.

In May, Clark County approved $2 million for the Vancouver Housing Authority to build a 30-unit supportive housing complex near downtown Vancouver. And about $1.2 million has already been set aside for county government spending.

According to Medvigy, these internal projects include the hiring of a new Warden at Clark County Jail to oversee the inmate mental health assessment process, a position at County Mental Health Courts, and a another position in the County Community Services Department.

The advisory board expects to make its recommendations this fall. Contracts could be awarded in January.

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