Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - It was a contentious County Talk segment on the KGVO Talk Back show on Tuesday, as Missoula County Commissioners Juanita Vero, Josh Slotnick, and Dave Strohmaier promoted the Crisis Services Levy that is on the General Election ballot.

The intimation from callers was that the levy is only to support homeless response, however, Commissioner Slotnick said one aspect of the five million annual levy is to fund the Mobile Support Team.

No, It's NOT just about the Homeless

“We've stood up a Mobile Support Team,” said Slotnick. “That means when someone's in a mental health crisis and a 9-1-1 is called, instead of the person in crisis being brought to jail because they're out of control or brought to the emergency department where it eats up a whole bunch of resources, a social worker and a paramedic, and tend to them in place. 60 percent of these calls are to people who live in homes where income really isn't part of it. Mental Health touches everybody's lives.”

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Slotnick also referenced the reentry program through the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

“Through the sheriff's department, we have a reentry program now,” he said. “So let's say somebody is leaving jail and leaving the justice system. They work with someone on how to get back on track, and by doing this, we prevent people from falling into crime and ending up in jail again, it's the ‘pay me now pay me later’, where we could pay now and have this person get a little push towards a better life, or we can let ‘er rip and catch up with him in jail later, which actually cost more.”

The Levy would Fund Multiple Programs

Commissioner Strohmaier counted off the many programs that would be supported by the annual levy.

“The sheriff's office community supported Reentry Program; jail mental health team; mobile support team which we've talked about here; crisis receiving center and Crisis Intervention Program; crime victim advocate program; Community Justice Department, programming; civil commitment mental health services; through the attorney's office, there’s ‘CALIBRATE’ which is Missoula County Attorney's Office prosecution led pretrial diversion program that Kirsten Pabst might have discussed at some point in the past; plus the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space and the Trinity Navigation Center.”

Charge of being 'Addicted to Spending' is 'Ridiculous' said Commissioner

One caller accused the County Commissioners of being ‘addicted to spending’ the taxpayers’ money, to which Slotnick forcefully responded.

“The last little piece on this ‘addicted to spending’,” he said. “Such an easy thing to say, and it's actually ridiculous. We said ‘no’ to more than three million dollars worth of requests. In terms of how much we spend attracts inflation; no more. We didn't spend way more money than we actually did spend in terms of requests from our staff who want to get those requests honored so they can do better give and provide better services to people. We held the line on spending.”

Find out more about the Crisis Services Levy by clicking here.

Click here to listen to the entire one-hour County Talk Program.

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