Survey To Weigh Support For Mental Health District

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY FEB 10, 2020

Should Sarasota County Commissioners ask voters to tax themselves to fund mental health facilities in the region? It’s a question being posed in a new survey from Sarasota County to gauge public interest in better indigent care for those with various disorders.

The questions come as Florida ranks 49th out of 50 states in funding for mental health services. Regional leaders can set up a Mental Health Special Dependent District to charge a property tax, but such a district would need to be approved by voters. That decision could be placed on the ballot in November.

As imagined right now, the Sarasota County Commission would set the millage rate and annual budget for the district.

Commissioners themselves have largely held back from the debate until a formal proposal can be rolled out.

“I am generally OK with allowing voters to directly decide if they want a program like this,” said Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler, “but I do want to ensure that there are some protections in place, which is which is why I am pushing for this to occur during a General Election and brought up the idea of having it renew periodically (which would allow for ongoing accountability by the taxpayers).”

Similarly, a sales tax benefiting Sarasota County Schools gets re-enacted every four years, but that has appeared on a special election ballot.

The survey doesn’t just ask for input on the desire for a tax and how much property owners may be willing to pay, but asks citizens to share if any individuals in their lives have needed mental health care. If so, the survey asks how that care was received. 

Take the survey here

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