County prepares for incoming opioid settlement money

Bartholomew County Commissioners are preparing to receive millions of dollars from settlements with the opioid industry.

At their meeting this week, the commissioners gave their first approval to set up two special funds to receive the money when it starts coming in. One is a restricted fund, limited by state and federal guidelines on how the money must be spent, and the second is an unrestricted fund which can be used for any county government purpose.

County officials said it isn’t completely clear on what limitations will be placed on the restricted funds and are seeking state guidance on how that money should be allocated. In response to a question from the audience, commissioners said that the money would go through the normal appropriation process through the county council so that the public can know how it will be spent.

Commissioners are expecting up to $3 million dollars over the next 18 years to flow in from the opioid settlement. Although that is a sizeable amount, Commissioner Tony London pointed out that still doesn’t offset the damage that the opioid epidemic has caused in the community.

A second and final vote on the funds creation, will likely occur at next Monday’s county commissioners meeting.