During an April 19 State of the County address, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry laid out the county’s 2023 agenda, which included continuing to press the state for “meaningful property assessment reform,” eliminating the county treasurer’s office and funding mental health care in the county.

“We have been trying to work together to get the state to first take ownership of the system,” Henry said after explaining property assessments are run by Texas, not local government. “They do a very good job of saying it's a local thing. The tax rate is a local thing; that’s a true statement. The assessment is not a local thing.”

Henry also touched on the county’s efforts to build and maintain infrastructure for responding to mental health crises in Galveston County.

“I'll say this: Whether you know it or not, you know somebody who has a mental health problem. It may be somewhere between mild [and] manageable to requiring medication, but you know somebody with a mental health problem,” Henry said.

Henry said the county had made strides to build more infrastructure to respond to mental health crises, including establishing a speciality court to process mentally ill defendants, but he believes more can be done, including building an extended observation unit.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, extended observation units provide up to 48 hours of emergency services to individuals in a mental health crisis who might pose a moderate to high risk of harm to themselves or others.

“One thing that we have really tried to take lead on as mental health funding, and it's unfortunate that the state has kind of walked away from that, but we're going to do the best we can to fill the gap,” Henry said.

Henry said the county had asked the state if it would commit to helping the county run an extended observation unit if the county built the infrastructure.

“We run the worst mental health clinic in the county,” Henry said. “It's called the county jail. People are going there when they shouldn't be. That's not the right place for them, but we've got no other places.”

Beyond tax reform and building infrastructure for mental health care, Henry also highlighted his office’s efforts to encourage voters in Galveston to eliminate the county treasurer's office, which is held by Hank Dugie, who was elected to the position in November after running on a campaign to abolish the position.