Brad DeCamp said he believes it’s important that the people directly affected by the opioid crisis have a say in how money from a settlement with drug manufacturers is used in Crawford County.
That’s one of the reasons DeCamp, executive director of the Crawford-Marion Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, will lead a public informational meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the lower level conference room of the Crawford County Courthouse.
Officially, it will be a meeting of Crawford County commissioners, though DeCamp will lead the session.
“It’s just an opportunity for people to voice their opinions,” commissioner Doug Weisenauer said.
Meeting will include an ‘overview’
The One Ohio memorandum of understanding, or MOU, that the state negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies will be reviewed at the meeting, said DeCamp, whom Crawford County commissioners appointed as the county’s representative to a regional board created under the terms of the settlement.
“It’s really to give an overview of how the funds are supposed to flow, the structure and how that’s going to look like once everything comes to fruition,” DeCamp said. “It’s comprised of some different moving parts. You have a state structure, a regional structure and then a local structure. We want to be sure that we cover those three angles and make sure the community understands also what the funds can be used for, because there are approved uses.”
According to RecoveryOhio.gov, a state website for the OneOhio Recovery Foundation, the memorandum outlines how opioid settlement funds will be distributed and how the funds can be used. Of the settlement funds, 30% is tagged for community recovering, with a share going to every township, village, city and county.
The biggest chunk of money, 55%, will go to a statewide foundation.
“The way that the state structure is set up is that each region is going to basically present projects to the state foundation, and the state foundation board can award based on different region projects,” DeCamp said. As a longtime proponent of smaller counties such as Crawford and Marion, “I am concerned that this is going to be potentially another type of setup where the bigger counties get most of the money.
“That’s why I want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to advocate in our community and with the state as well to make sure that we do get our fair share, and that goes for both Crawford and Marion counties, from my perspective.”
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the opioid settlement money, DeCamp acknowledged. Payments to communities will be spread out over 18 years. Exact amounts are unclear, but a chart on the OneOhio site lists total payments to some Crawford County townships being either $15.34 or $21.91. Smaller communities might be able to pool their money — but even then, it might not be enough to accomplish much, DeCamp said.
Communities recently received a chunk of settlement money — but DeCamp said he believes that was from a separate lawsuit that was filed against distributors. “I think that’s the money that was most recently sent out,” he said. “But again, it’s not a lot.”
Treatment center is one possibility
Commissioners had discussed using the funding to create a treatment center housing multiple agencies providing services needed to combat drug addiction.
“That’s the goal, but we don’t know if we’re going to have enough funds to run it, get it off the ground,” Weisenauer said.
While there’s still interest in a comprehensive treatment center, “I think it’s evolving and it will depend on the funding,” DeCamp said.
DeCamp stressed that hearing from the community — “giving those families and individuals who have been directly impacted an opportunity to speak to this” — will be a key step in the process.
“It will be part of an ongoing dialog,” he said. “I would expect that there would be some additional information that would be put out, either in the form of a public meeting or potentially a survey. I think we’re looking at some different options, but we do want to get community input into how to best use the funds.”