The Ann Arbor Climate Partnership is urging voters in Washtenaw County to support a mental health millage that would also happen fund climate action.
At first glance, it's a bit confusing.
Washtenaw County residents are voting on a millage proposal on the November 2017 ballot that would fund mental health and public safety services throughout the county. State mental health funding cutbacks have created what local officials describe as a“community crisis” that needs to be addressed with a new source of financial support.
Here's the climate connection. The ballot proposal provides a rebate to cities that have their own police force. Ann Arbor City Council has resolved to apply its portion of the rebate funds to climate action (40%), affordable housing (40%), and pedestrian safety (20%).
In effect, Ann Arbor voters would be voting on a “Community Safety and Resiliency” initiative that addresses many of the community’s most pressing needs. It’s a creative approach to funding answers to difficult systemic problems.
Since the beginning of the year, climate activists and the Ann Arbor Climate Partnership have been calling on Mayor Taylor and City Council to take bold next steps to address climate change at the local level. Local environmental experts and advocates, including the Ann Arbor Climate Partnership, persuaded them to include a modest funding increase in the 2017-18 budget, and Mayor Taylor committed Ann Arbor to join other U.S. cities in doing their part to uphold the Paris climate agreement after President Trump withdrew the United States.
But a commitment is only as strong as the money and policy you put behind it. If the county millage is approved, the plan would provide essential mental health and public safety services. A yes vote on this millage would mark the single biggest municipal initiative to address climate change in Michigan.