UPDATE: Jackson County residents invest in mental health

Jackson County homeowners agreed to raise their own taxes to support a cause: mental health.

Voters overwhelming approved a millage that will help support residents with their mental health needs.

With all of the votes counted, “yes” votes led the “no” votes by more than 2,000 (8,324 to 6,045 – or 58% to 42%). That was a huge relief to the people at LifeWays, Jackson County’s community mental health agency.

The group says it used to get $5 million a year to help the uninsured in Jackson. In recent years, officials there say cuts in state funding dropped that amount to $1.4 million – forcing the group to turn people away.

The millage will cost the owner of a $100,000 home another $50 a year. That will add up to about $2 million a year for the agency for the next 10 years.

LifeWays CEO Maribeth Leonard says treating mental illness sooner rather than later help head off serious problems like unemployment, homelessness, drug abuse, and crime.

Jackson voters also overwhelmingly approved the renewal of a millage to fund special education at districts across the county. Because it’s a renewal, it won’t add anything extra to local tax bills. With all of the precincts reporting, “yes” votes outnumbered “no” votes by a margin of almost 3 to 1 (10,444 to 3,816 – or 74% to 26%).

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