Making a Difference, a Few Cents at a Time

June 14, 2019 - Author Name

You might not notice the one and a quarter cent tax you pay for every $10 you spend in Bernalillo County, or think that it can do much, but it does.

Today, you provided housing and services for a formerly homeless person.

You helped our community change how we can respond to police calls for service for citizens experiencing mental health crises by creating specialized teams  of law enforcement officers and mental health professionals.

You helped a young homeless family navigate the healthcare system to get the prenatal care and education they need to give their next child a better chance.

Today, you made a difference.

And as a County, we are making a difference by investing in the wellbeing of our most vulnerable residents a few cents at a time. Altogether, Bernalillo County residents and visitors to the City contribute 17-20 million dollars a year by way of a 1/8 cent gross receipt tax to fund community-based behavioral health programs for residents with substance use disorder and mental illness. To date, BHI tax dollars have funded Mobile Crisis Teams, Youth Transitional Living Services, Single-site Permanent Supportive Housing, Peer Drop-in Centers, and a variety of education and training opportunities for community members and behavioral health professionals. (You can read about the County’s expanding list of approved BHI projects here.)

At ISR-CARA, funded via the County, we study the development and implementation of each of these programs to understand their individual and collective impact on the populations they are designed to help and the other County and City systems that bear the brunt of unaddressed behavioral health issues. We ask questions like, do the BHI funded programs increase the likelihood of individuals achieving positive post-treatment outcomes such as housing stability, improved economic status, maintained sobriety, physical and emotional well-being, or educational attainment? Are these programs cost effective? Are we realizing the anticipated societal benefits of reduced demand on other community service systems like law enforcement, courts, corrections, and emergency medical services?

Our data and findings will inform individual service providers, the County, and you, the taxpayer, about best practices in service delivery and the expected individual outcomes, system-level impacts and cost for BHI. Our evaluations can help make sure the differences we make with our tax dollars are meaningful, cost effective, and sustainable.

The history of how the community identified the County’s behavioral health needs funded them through the initiative can be found here. For more on the governing subcommittee meetings and education and training opportunities go here.