by Emmitt B. Feldner
for The Beacon
SHEBOYGAN — The county got its share — just under $3 million — of the $26 billion opioid lawsuit settlement last week.
The County Board approved a resolution to accept its share of the settlement in the suit brought by more than 40 state attorneys general against a number of drug manufacturers and distributors accused of fueling and exacerbating opioid use, addiction and deaths across the nation.
“We were among 71 counties (in Wisconsin) who joined the lawsuit several years ago,” County Administrator Adam Payne told the board.
Under the formula devised in the settlement with the pharmaceutical companies, Wisconsin received $402 million, with the county’s share being $3,968,065.47. Of that amount, 25 percent covers attorney costs, leaving the county with a settlement of around $2.976 million, which will be paid out in equal installments over the next 18 years.
Under the terms of the settlement, the county must use the funds to address and abate the opioid crisis.
“We don’t have any specific plans for this yet,” Payne said Wednesday of the settlement proceeds.
“The bottom line is we have to get a better understanding of what’s eligible. But this provides an opportunity to establish programs or implement something that could be long-term,” Payne continued.
He said one idea being considered, using either American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) or settlement funds, would be to have county Department of Health and Human Services staff ride along with city of Sheboygan police to provide mental health services when needed.
The board acted immediately on the resolution Tuesday, rather than send it to a second committee for further consideration, in order to meet settlement deadlines.
In a memo to the board, County Board Chair Vernon Koch explained that “a ‘critical mass’ of both state and local governments nationally must approve the settlement … no later than January 2, 2022.”
Payne, in his remarks to the board, credited Corporation Counsel Crystal Fieber for her efforts in following the progress of the lawsuit and keeping abreast of what was required of the county.
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Kathleen Donovan was sworn in as supervisor from the 3rd District in the city of Sheboygan.
Donovan replaces Vicky Schneider, who resigned the seat in advance of moving outside of the district.
An education specialist at Bookworm Gardens, Donovan was one of six applicants for the vacancy.
Koch, who made the appointment, said that the strong pool of candidates made the choice of Donovan a difficult one.
There is still one vacancy on the board, in the 18th District in the city and town of Sheboygan Falls.
Jacob Immel resigned from that seat after moving out of the district.
Those interested in filling the vacancy should send a letter of interest and brief resume to Koch at the Sheboygan County Administration Building, 508 New York Ave. – Room 311, Sheboygan 53081.
Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. next Wednesday.
For more information, contact Koch’s office at (920)459-3103.
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