Pierce County Council will consider a resolution to terminate the Interlocal Agreement between the City of Tacoma and Pierce County that maintains the joint Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD), which has existed since 1972. Ordinance 2020-136 was just posted December 2, with a first hearing December 7, and a planned final vote scheduled for December 15. While consideration of such an action in the middle of a global pandemic seems ridiculous on its face, even more concerning, this action is being taken with two weeks notice, no transparency or plan.
I would expect a decision of this magnitude to be prominently featured on the Pierce County Council webpage. However, it is not listed on the main page under Upcoming Legislation, Latest Council Action, Latest News, or Key Reports. Moving to the Legislation and Proclamations page, still no featured announcement. I’ve actually never been able to navigate to the ordinance page, but was able to find it in a search.
Once found, the brief ordinance simply calls for the dissolution of the current Tacoma – Pierce County public health structure. Looking through the documents available with the legislation, there is no needs assessment indicating something in public health services is not working or that a reorganization is necessary. There is no analysis indicating the costs and benefits of standing up a new, independent health department for Pierce County. Nor is there any plan for moving to an independent agency.
Needless to say, this total lack of analysis and planning is occurring in the middle of a pandemic – the greatest health crisis in a century. TPCHD is currently partnering with county school districts to innovate testing protocols that may allow us to bring students back to school. We should not be diverting energy from these sorts of initiatives to pursue the development of an entirely new public health structure for which there is no demonstrated need.
The actions of Councilwoman Pam Roach and supporting members to dissolve the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department at this time are irresponsible and dangerous. I urge all Pierce County residents to relay these concerns through public comment to the Council.
The Auburn Examiner encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may questionable. The publication of this Letter to the Editor does not indicate an endorsement of its contents.