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Local News

Measure B to fund substance use disorder treatment

A building and a parking lot with EV charging station spaces.
The Crisis Residential Treatment center on Orchard Street in Ukiah.

The Board of Supervisors discussed the particulars of a request for proposals from contractors competing to offer drug addiction rehabilitation services.

October 12, 2022 — The Measure B Oversight Committee is seeking a contractor to provide substance use disorder treatment.

Measure B is a sales tax initiative to fund mental health facilities that passed in 2017. The tax was a half-cent for the first five years, and has now decreased to an eighth of a cent.

An eleven-member oversight committee is tasked with making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on how to spend the money.

Last month’s meeting of the Measure B Oversight Committee included a discussion about a $3.1 million proposal from the Ford Street Project to offer substance use disorder treatment, or SUDT. Last week, Behavioral Health Director Dr. Jeanine Miller, who sits on the committee, spoke with the Board of Supervisors about what they’d like to see in a request for proposals, or RFP, from contractors competing to offer the service.

Supervisor Glenn McGourty was shocked to learn that 75 people in Mendocino County died last year from drug overdose. Miller clarified that the number ruled out people who intentionally took their own lives. “Really, really terrible,” McGourty remarked, adding that he thinks the number points to the need for treatment.

Supervisor Dan Gjerde wanted to make sure Measure B funds wouldn’t be used to pay for a program that could be funded by the state. “My concern with the Ford Street Project isn’t what they’re proposing. My concern was that they were seeking local tax dollars for what I suspect the state would be happy to fund,” he explained. “For example, the state’s making significant money available for homeless housing, or for people who are in danger of becoming homeless, and I would think that people who have serious substance abuse issues are certainly in danger of becoming homeless. So I would just be concerned if we were to use local tax dollars, which are very precious and minimal, even if it’s Measure B funds, to pay for something that we think the state is likely to fund.”

Miller told him the details haven’t all been hammered out yet, and she was monitoring the availability of state grants.

Supervisor Ted Williams signaled that he is likely to vote in favor of a proposal requesting evidence-based treatment plans that meet with the approval of local doctors. Miller suggested inviting some of them to help write the proposal.

“I appreciate the RFP. I think that’s the right process, given the dollar amount. We have finite funds. I would prefer (to) see evidence-based, medically supervised substance abuse treatment. Is that a possibility?” Williams asked Miller.

Miller told him “we can put out a request for whatever type of services we want…in that RFP we can put in a request for specific services, or all of the services, and then get the proposals we get, and go off of those by opening up types of SUDT (substance abuse disorder treatment) services.”

WIlliams told her that “I don’t want to guide that process, as the county supervisor. You’re our expert. I want to trust you. It would be helpful if we could involve local physicians. When I have local physicians calling me and telling me they don’t support what we’re doing, that it may have benefits, but is it the best use of funds, that’s concerning. It’s a red flag. Is there a way early in the process to make sure that we’re including local physicians so we at least capture their ideas about what they need?”

Miller said discussions at the Measure B Oversight Committee meeting had included a conversation about the composition of a stakeholder group as part of writing the RFP, “so we can definitely include a couple of medical community members in that RFP to get their feedback,” she said.

Miller also assured Williams that the RFP would come back to the full Board of Supervisors for its approval before it is posted.

Measure B funds have also been used to purchase a behavioral health training center in Redwood Valley. Miller told the Board that although the training center is coming in $285,000 under budget, more IT equipment is needed, and there’s a marketing campaign underway to rent the hall. It’s mostly unused, even as the memory of pandemic restrictions fades.

There is also a Measure B funded Crisis Residential Treatment facility in Ukiah, where people in moderate psychiatric crisis can spend up to thirty days in treatment. It’s currently $264,000 under budget. The facility opened in April, so it is still too early to tell if initial financial projections of a neutral impact on the budget were accurate.

A mobile crisis response team of three mental healthcare staff working with the sheriff’s department and the Ukiah police department has responded to 212 calls so far.

An architect is designing the tear-down of an old nursing home on Whitmore Lane in Ukiah to build a Measure-B funded psychiatric health facility, or puff, on the site. The original estimate was $19.5 million, but that estimate has grown by about a million. The current estimated completion date for the construction is June of 2025.

Local News
Sarah Reith came to Mendocino County in 2008 and worked as a reporter and freelancer, joining KZYX as a community news reporter in 2017. She became the KZYX News Director in March, 2023.