County health department details spending plan

The Pierce County Council released $10.8 billion of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding made to the health department in the county’s budget last November. The two-year budget required an itemized list of planned spending from the health department before the funds were granted.

According to the health department, the money would fund responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that appears to be transitioning to an endemic. The spending breaks down as follows: $3.7 million on testing; $3.2 million on outbreak investigations; $1.5 million on response and management operations; $1 million on epidemiology; $700,000 on communications; and $490,000 on community engagement.

“The proposal that we have in front of us is not a new appropriation,” council Chair Derek Young explained at the March 8 regular County Council meeting. “That was already made by the budget. We added a proviso asking for a detailed plan, and that’s what was sent by the health department and was amended into the exhibit. The actual amount that is stated here doesn’t change the appropriation one way or another.”

In other words, those funds have been allotted already as part of the health department’s $88.6 million budget for 2022 and 2023. County revenues account for $7.2 million of that. Prior to the pandemic, the county allocated significantly less money to the department. For example, in 2019, the department got $2.2 million.

Other highlights from the meeting:

The County Council approved an interlocal agreement with the Port of Tacoma to complete two capital improvement projects as part of the county’s Surface Water Management Improvement Plan: the Clear Creek Habitat Restoration and Clear Creek Floodgate.

The former project will improve access to salmon habitat and increase flood storage capacity by removing sections of an existing access road separating Clear Creek from an adjacent wetland owned by the Port of Tacoma. The road removal will result in approximately 5,000 cubic yards of floodplain excavation.

The latter project will replace an existing wooden flap gate on one of the two culverts that drain Clear Creek to the Puyallup River. It would allow better fish passage and reduce impacts from flooding along Cedar Creek.

Joel Green was appointed as a new member to the Pierce County Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission.

Diane Abney was appointed as a new member to the Gig Harbor Peninsula Advisory Commission.


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