Steering Committee brainstorming ways to impact community with incoming Opioid Settlement funds

Steering Committee brainstorming ways to impact community with incoming Opioid Settlement funds

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Judge-Executive Al Mattingly reported Tuesday that Owensboro-Daviess County will be receiving approximately $222,000 from the Opioid Settlement Fund.

Mattingly said that the local city and county governments would be receiving a combined amount from the national settlement. The $222,000 — representing about 1.12% of the total national pot — will be paid out over roughly 15 years, according to Mattingly.

“I don’t mean to diminish $222,000, but in the scheme of things, it’s not a lot,” Mattingly said.

He noted there are still questions about the rollout and distribution of funds. One questions Mattingly has is whether the final pot of money will be distributed out of a net cost or if there will still need to be allocations before it is awarded to each government, as that would affect the amount Owensboro and Daviess County would receive.

Committee member Rosemary Conder said even if it’s not considered to be a lot, the money gives local officials a place to start in creating change in the community.

“It’s enough to really move the needle for some organizations. … I think it gives us the opportunity to look at that kind of money over 20 years. You could really make a generational change if we’re strategic about it,” Conder said.

From there, the committee began brainstorming ideas of how best to use the funds to help support the community.

One of the directions they considered putting funding toward educating the community on the side effects of drug usage, along with teaching those who have criminal charges and showing them how to acclimate back into society upon release.

Many committee members brought up the need to provide effective halfway houses and recovery programs that enable the growth of the individual after rehab.

As a committee, they recognize that they don’t legislative power but can help recommend solutions.

“I think we have to take a look at the [areas of prevention and recovery], but if we give the money into specific programs the impact will not be the same as making an influence on policies,” River Valley Behavioral Health President/CEO Dr. Wanda Figueroa said.

The group ultimately planned to call a special meeting in the near future to discuss ways they can help recommend the usage of the monies within the community.

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