HomeNewsCounty figuring out how to invest opioid settlement funds

County figuring out how to invest opioid settlement funds

By Brandon Shields

Managing editor

Madison County and every other county in Tennessee, is set to get a noticeable amount of money over potentially nearly two decades from the class action settlement between national pharmaceutical companies and different entities from the opioid epidemic.

The County Commission’s budget committee approved a subcommittee to be established to look at figuring out what to do with the funds the County gets.

That committee had its first meeting on Monday, April 8.

Sheriff Julian Wiser was selected chair of the committee with County Deputy Mayor Terica Smith being named vice-chair. Other committee members include County Commissioners Tony Neihoff, Gary Deaton and Richard Watson along with Judge Roy Morgan, Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Director Kim Tedford and Historic First Baptist Church Pastor William Watson. The committee will have a ninth member, but that person hasn’t been selected yet.

Representatives from Madison County Drug Court, Juvenile Court, JACOA and Aspell Recovery were present for the meeting as well.

The County has a limited number of ways it can decide to use funds it receives from the settlement.

County Attorney Jay Bush educated the committee members on how the funds could be used, and those ways can either be toward prevention of addiction, treatment or education/awareness.

There are different ways the state and federal governments are dispersing the money with sending money directly to entities like Madison County directly.

There’s also an opioid abatement fund, which is handled at the state level. It has a committee of 15 members that decides who to award grants to.

Richard Barber, the director of Aspell, let the committee know how competitive grants are for local organizations.

“We applied for a grant,” Barber said before JACOA Director Barry Cooper and the representative from drug court both said they did too. “But when you look at who got awarded grants, you see that organizations in East Tennessee got $119 million and Middle Tennessee got $106 million.

“West Tennessee got a total of $9 million, and that includes Shelby County. The only organization in West Tennessee outside Shelby County that was awarded any money was Pathways.”

The opioid abatement committee’s 15 members all come from Middle and East Tennessee except for one, and that person is in Shelby.

The committee plans to continue meeting to begin the process of figuring out what to recommend to the budget committee – and ultimately the County Commission – of how to disperse the funds the County gets.

And they also plan to fill the ninth position on the committee.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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