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County has received $1.6 million from opioid settlement

A recovery center is planned for the Butler-based building that once owned by the Grace Youth and Family Foundation. The space, located on Center Avenue in Butler, is shown on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, has been sold. Butler Eagle File Photo

Butler County has received more than $1.6 million from national and state settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors, and is expected to receive more settlement money in the future.

The county received disbursements of $977,380 and $636,243 over the last two years from settlement funds, which has been designated for the mandated medication-assisted treatment program at the Butler County Prison, newly proposed recovery programs, including a Butler-based recovery center in the county, and more.

Ben Holland, Butler County controller, said the county has recognized a total of $9.5 million in settlement funds that will be distributed over 18 years.

State and local governments have recouped billions in tax dollars spent dealing with the opioid epidemic through the settlements.

To accept and distribute the settlement fund, the state created the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust. The trust governs the disbursement of the settlement funds received by the state and the political subdivisions in the state that were parties to the class action proceeding, which include Butler County.

The trust allocates 15% of the settlement funds to the state; 70% to local governments and 15% to the litigating subdivisions and agencies that participated in the class action lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors.

The state is due to receive about $1.07 billion as part of the $26 billion national settlement. Counties in Pennsylvania will receive $700 million from the state settlement.

Settlement rules require municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more in the counties to approve the settlement. Those municipalities in Butler County include Butler, Cranberry and Adams townships and the city of Butler.

The county commissioners allocate the county’s settlement money in accordance with guidelines established during the settlement process.

Where Butler County’s money goes

At their March 13 meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution allocating $200,000 from the $636,243 in 2023 settlement funds to newly proposed collaborative community prevention and recovery programs driven by the recovery community. Some of the money may be used for planning education, design and operation of a community-based recovery center in the county.

A recovery center is planned for the Butler building that once owned by the Grace Youth and Family Foundation. The Nonprofit Development Corporation purchased the building, with the plan to turn it into a drug and alcohol recovery center run by Butler County Human Services.

In an earlier interview, Brandon Savochka, director of Butler County Human Services, said the space was the right property, available at the right time.

The center will offer programs designed for people who have completed treatment for drug, alcohol and other substance abuse problems and are rebuilding their lives.

At that same meeting, the commissioners designated $100,000 for addressing the needs of people in the criminal justice system and in prison. The money will be used for the mandated medication-assisted treatment program, other programs for people with substance use disorder and juveniles in the justice system.

A $70,000 allocation will support housing programs that address safety, recovery and accompanying mental health issues, and the resolution also allows $266,243 to be used in any of those initiatives.

Last year, the commissioners approved a resolution for distributing nearly $977,380 in 2022 settlement money, also in the areas of housing, recovery and treatment.

The resolution allocated $350,000 to address the recovery needs of people in the criminal justice system, including people in the county prison. Like in March, this funding too was for the medication-assisted treatment program at the prison and other people in the justice system with substance abuse disorder.

An allocation of $100,000 from the settlement was directed to housing programs that address safety, recovery and related mental health issues.

A second $100,000 was allocated to newly proposed collaborative community prevention and recovery programs driven by the recovery community and focus on individual and community integration and workforce engagement, and toward the planning of a community-based recovery center.

The final allocation of $427,379 is for the startup costs of the three recovery categories.

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