Mental health tax advocates speaking at Our Lady of the Lake

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BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - Local officials are highlighting mental health at a Wednesday morning gathering in the Capital City. 

According to Emergent Method, a group of officials including District Attorney Hillar Moore, III are showing their "unified support for a mental health tax to fund operations of a mental health crisis stabilization center in East Baton Rouge Parish."

Joining DA Moore at today's event are these individuals:

  • Former head of the Department of Health and Hospitals and Bridge Center for Hope Board Chair Kathy Kliebert

  • Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux, III

  • Coroner William “Beau” Clark, M.D.

  • Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy J. Paul

  • Suzy Sonnier, Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Health District

Organizers said, "the tax, on ballots December 8, will represent a 1.5 millage property tax, estimated to cost $1.50 per month for the average homeowner with a home valued at $200,000."

The event is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

According to Emergent Method, "the tax would generate $6 million annually for ten years to fund the stabilization center, but is estimated to save the Baton Rouge community $55 million over the life of the tax."

“Mental illness is not a crime, and what we are doing today is not creating the outcomes we
need,” said Moore. “Our police officers are spending exorbitant amounts of time responding to
mental health crisis-related calls. Then the burden is on them to de-escalate the situation, taxi
individuals to the ER, and oftentimes wait with them until they are admitted. This can take
anywhere from four to 12 hours – time that should be spent fighting real crime.”

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is located at 5000 Hennessy Blvd.

Phillip LaFargue