By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw
WARSAW — Indiana’s massive opioid settlement will bring millions and millions of dollars to Indiana and is unchartered territory for local officials whose job will be to use the money to fight the epidemic.
Kosciusko county and every town in the county will receive payments over the next 17 years. The first installment has been sent out already.
Kosciusko County’s first lump sum totals more than $280,000 in restricted and unrested money. On top of that, the county is seeking some of the additional $25 million the state will make available in the form of matching grants.
But what about all those small towns that are also receiving money, albeit in much smaller amounts?
Dollar ranges vary greatly and officials believe future allotments will also vary.
Thirteen local units of government in Kosciusko County have received the first installments under a plan outlined by the Indiana Attorney General’s office.
The distribution is a part of the $26 billion national settlement with Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.
Indiana’s share of the settlement is about $507 million. The state will use half of the money and the rest will be distributed to cities, towns and counties over 18 years.
Warsaw’s grand total is about $655,120. The first installment includes $96,471 to combat opioid addiction and another $41,345 for unrestricted uses.
Similarly, Winona Lake will eventually receive $244,711. The first installment includes $36,035 in restricted money and another $15,443 in unrestricted uses.
On the opposite end of the funding spectrum, Sidney will receive a total of $1,211. The town’s first installment includes $178.44 in restricted and $76.47 in unrestricted.
Elected officials for small towns lack the expertise in determining how to use the money.
One official told News Now Warsaw earlier this month that she’s talked with small-town officials outside of Kosciusko County who said they are inclined to send it back to the state because they have no idea what to do with the money.
Kosciusko County’s opioid committee chairperson, Sue Ann Mitchell, was asked about that during the committee’s first meeting last week.
Somehow, those smaller bundles of money will likely be pulled together.
“We will be reaching out to the towns. That’s another piece of the puzzle to see if the towns would want to partner with us,” Mitchell said.
The county is currently scurrying to meet an application deadline of Feb. 28 to seek some of the matching grants.