The Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors were updated on the Seasons Center for Community Mental Health during their March 20 meeting.
"Seasons is doing well. We've hit our stride," reported Seasons Center Executive Director Kim Scorza. "Productivity is up. We are now requiring each producer to hit 100 bill-able hours a month, and we are fully staffed in the psychiatric department."
Scorza shared that the wait time for new psychiatric evaluations is one week.
"The perception is that the wait time huge, but that just isn't true anymore," Scorza said.
She went on to note that Seasons Center is fiscally strong.
"Financially, we're doing well," said Scorza. "We've been very conservative and have cut $300,000 from a year ago. The director of finances at Seasons is returning 25-percent of what we received from the county back to the county."
She then presented a check to the Supervisors.
Scorza continued her report, sharing that Seasons joined a mental health alliance that covers two-thirds of the population.
"We're helping them rewrite the law," said Scorza referring to Senate File 2315 on mental health reform. "I think it's in the House this week and we'll hear something more on that. There is talk of continuing the session to May."
According to Scorza, last week Senators passed the reform, which would place administrative control at the regional level and delivery of services locally.
"The big thing now is to contact those legislators working on the bill and let them know that the levy must be reinstated," said Scorza. "It's not a tax increase, but it's causing concern. The only way for the redesign to work is for the state to buy out property tax. There's talk of tying mental health services to sales tax, but that doesn't make any sense. We're coming out of a recession and there is no stability to a sales tax. Property tax is the only way to go."
Scorza added that property taxes generate $125 million each year for mental health services.
"We're in a window of time. Starting July 1, 2013, we won't be able to collect property taxes for mental health," said Scorza.
"They'll let us reinstate property tax to pay for it," said Supervisor Ed Noonan.
Scorza expressed doubt and urged the Supervisors to contact those legislators working on the redesign to encourage them to reinstate the property tax levy.
Noonan noted he doesn't agree with the regional approach nor with the redesign.
"What Kim is asking for is that the property tax be reinstated," Keith Wirtz, chairman of the board, interjected.
"If you encourage them to reinstate the property tax levy, are you supporting the redesign? But if you don't support the levy, there won't be money to pay for the services," said Maureen Sandberg, Palo Alto County General Relief Director. "The redesign can be redesigned next year, but we need the money in our budget now. You can't change the money next year if you don't have the money in this year."
"Well, we can't cross that bridge before we get to it. Let's sit and see what happens," said Supervisor Jerry Hofstad bringing the discussion to a close.