County programs wins national awards

Pierce County has been named winner of three 2003 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards, which recognize efforts of counties to promote responsible, responsive and effective government.

Here are the winners:

– “Not A Penny More”
Assessing and collecting property taxes is the responsibility of the Assessor-Treasurer’s Office. The “Not A Penny More” direct-mail program, developed in cooperation with the Department of Communications, was created to help property owners and citizens of Pierce County understand how property taxes are determined, how the proceeds are used and what the county is doing to insure that collections are equitable. Information about property tax exemptions also was provided.

– “Puget Sound Behavioral Health”
In 2000, Pierce County purchased Puget Sound Behavioral Health, a 43-bed inpatient psychiatric facility which had filed for bankruptcy. As access to beds at the state psychiatric hospital decreased, PSBH has provided an alternative community-based resource and developed effective mental health treatment, which reduces the need for long-term stays at the state hospital.

– “Pierce County Responds”
Pierce County was at a crossroads in the management of illegally dumped wastes. The pressures of a large and quickly growing population resulted in illegal dumping, nuisance vehicles and illegal businesses stockpiling waste products in the guise of recycling or wrecking yards. In cooperation with citizens serving on the county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee, the Pierce County Solid Waste Division developed Pierce County Responds. After a year of operation 10 of 14 priority dump sites were cleaned up or headed toward clean up by a date certain and 4,000 calls were made to the program hotline.