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Proposed tax on Dec. ballot could allow for mental health facility in BR

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BATON ROUGE – As voters head to the polls, one item they will be asked to approve is a property tax that would generate nearly $6 million for a mental health facility in Baton Rouge.

People suffering from behavioral health issues in need of treatment are behind bars. Only one out of eight people ever receive any treatment.

Rob Reardon of the Bridge Center, a non-profit organization created by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, is working to change those numbers and organize a crisis intervention center.

"70 percent of the inmate population, has a mental health or substance abuse issue," Reardon said.

"Where we treat people in a different way, rather than just locking everybody up," he said.

Reardon said that Louisiana is number one in incarceration in the world.

Currently many people that have behavioral issues do not have many options other than going to the emergency room or going to jail.

"The jails become a de fecto mental health hospitals," Reardon said.

Reardon said that a facility would provide an opportunity for people to go to a different location and get the treatment and services they need.

The Baton Rouge General Mid City is currently the top location for a mental health facility should the tax pass, as the location has gone through a few changes in the last couple of years.

Police come in contact with people in need of treatment on a daily basis and a mental health facility is something law enforcement would support, along with District Attorney Hillar Moore.

"Help law enforcement, help our hospitals, our emergency rooms, make it better for everybody in Baton Rouge," Moore said.

The property tax will cost the homeowner of a $200,000 home about $18 a year. In return, it would create a 24-hour, 30-bed center for stability, treatment and assistance.

The proposed tax will appear on the December 10th ballot.


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