Dare Commissioners approve $370K budget for opioid settlement funds

By on May 8, 2024

Saving Lives Task Force Co-chair Roxanna Ballinger presented the opioid settlement budget to the Dare Commissioners.

A $370,000 budget for the allocation of the Dare County opioid settlement funds for Fiscal Year 2024-25 was approved by the Dare County Commissioners at their May 7 meeting following a presentation by Roxana Ballinger, Co-Chair of the Saving Lives Task Force. The budget was drawn up after seeking public input through a survey sent to Dare County citizens.

The Task Force works with the county each year to determine and oversee the allocation of the funds, which the county will continue to receive annually for the next 15 years as part of the landmark $26 billion settlement in 2021 with large drug companies for allegedly fueling the deadly nationwide opioid epidemic.

This is the third year Dare County has received funding as part of the settlement. The County received $422,000 in the 2022-2023 Fiscal Year and $423,000 for Fiscal Year 2023-2024, according to Ballinger.

The $370,000 budget for the coming fiscal year allots $68,000 for a Peer Support Specialist position; $75,000 for a Recovery Court Case Manager position; $100,000 for naloxone and fentanyl test strips for community distribution; $12,000 for social determinants of health; $50,000 towards Dare County Detention Center; and $65,000 toward community initiatives.

Beginning last year, as part of the process for determining the funds, the Saving Lives Task Force sends out a survey to seek public opinion on what they should invest in.

“The survey weighs in heavily,” says Wally Overman, Co-Chair of the Task Force, explaining that the results are the basis for the draft budget that the Task Force draws up. Last year, there were 57 responses to the survey and this year, there were 77 responses.

“And the big feedback from the community since the very beginning has been that they want money for treatment. That came out loud and clear,” says Ballinger, explaining that 90% of the people that responded to this year’s survey wanted funds to go to local substance use disorder treatment programs.

This means helping with out-of-pocket costs that many incur in order to enter these treatment programs. According to Overman, there are a few faith-based treatment programs in North Carolina that are free, but a number of them cost money. As part of their community initiatives portion of the budget, $45,000 will go to Changing Tides, a local drug and alcohol treatment center, and $20,000 will go toward the Dare Challenge program to help local residents pay for treatment at these programs.

“Basically, what we’re learning is 30 days is a waste of time for somebody in treatment, but most of the [longer-term stays], there is some cost involved. Sometimes insurance pays for a certain amount of time…but there is some cost involved and sometimes there is funding to help cover those costs,” says Overman,

The budget also includes the continuation of naloxone and fentanyl test kits for community distribution, which has also been done in the past few years.

“You’ve got to help people stay alive or you’re not going to be able to help them at all. And just a note on that, we have almost tripled the naloxone that we have gotten out in the community over the past year as a result of having a full-time peer support specialist,” says Ballinger, explaining that the naloxone and kits are in access points across the county, including gas stations, libraries and churches.

“And it is saving lives,” adds Overman.

The peer support specialist role was created and funded through the opioid settlement funds along with a position to support Dare Recovery Court. That program offers court-ordered and supervised rehabilitation programs combined with reduced or suspended jail sentences aimed at helping defendants with substance addiction break the cycles of drug dependence, crime and incarceration.

“And these are needed positions. If you’re going to tackle the opioid crisis internally and support the infrastructure, we had to fund these two positions,” says Ballinger. “Our Recovery Court program has grown by leaps and bounds since it started…four years ago.”

The budget includes $50,000 for the Dare County Detention Center to help with their reentry programs in their clinical services in the jail. Another thing they are investing in is social determinants of health.

“Social determinants of health are all the little things that people have to have in order to function and those basic needs of their life so they can be productive, like…a co-pay to get into Oxford House, an entrance fee, transportation, clothing, or helping to pay for medical care,” says Ballinger.

In the last 90 days of each fiscal year, Ballinger is required to provide an Impact Report, which tracks results for each item that was funded by the county. Information for each year’s allocation of funds is also available at ncopioidsettlement.org.

“It’s all there,” says Ballinger. “You know, there is a checks and balances…Some people feel like there’s no accountability with money, but that is the reason that North Carolina made their system completely transparent…and part of that is in an impact report on every dollar of the settlement fund.”

 


BIDDER PRE-QUALIFICATION REQUEST:

Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


 



Comments

  • Avalon

    Looks like a vast majority of the funds, again, are going to staffing and no clear indication of funds going to prevention and recovery. You are not going to reduce the problem without a substantial amount of funds directed at prevention and recovery.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 8:24 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    If I were you, I would contact the Saving Lives Task Force so that you can get a clearer sense of how the money is being spent. I think you may be misreading things

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 10:23 am
  • Avalon

    Mark, I think I am reading that $65k of $370k are going to community initiatives. I think that percentage is too low. I would have preferred to see more funds go to Changing Tides and Dare Challenge. Also, I am familiar with Saving Lives Task Force and have given community input on these settlement funds in the past. That’s my two cents worth. However, I hope all the funds and programs help those battling with addiction.

    Thursday, May 9 @ 2:38 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    We will agree to disagree. I think spending $100,000 distributed in community locations for naloxone or fentanyl strips are important expenditures aimed at saving lives and preventing fatal overdoses. I think funding a Recovery Court manager so that offenders can get into a treatment program rather than face incarceration is an important prevention and treatment program.

    Thursday, May 9 @ 8:16 am
  • GreatPR

    the settlement sounds goo, but falls flat. less funding for bulletin boards for sure. no one addicted to drugs is reading a bulletin board and thinking, Hey I need to check for fentanyl, when in FACT, they want the fentanyl. no addict “checks” their drug. waste of product.
    More Money for Dare Challenge and Changing Tides!

    Thursday, May 9 @ 9:19 am
  • surf123

    It for the most part is all a waste of time and money. If drug addicts, which fentanyl users are, cannot get their drug of choice they move on to something else. Most will never stop using and they certainly do not care their drug use can kill them. We do not need more people working jobs that are zero benefit to anyone other than addicts. We would be better off to spend the money to get 1 family a house. As for covering co-pays and other deductibles I would guess that most drug addicts do not have insurance as that is not a priority when you are an addict and very few hold down good jobs with health insurance.

    Thursday, May 9 @ 8:13 pm
  • Mel

    Substance abuse treatment is the biggest scam ever pulled over on the American people.

    Thursday, May 9 @ 8:25 pm
  • Sandflea

    @ Surf123 and Mel;
    Spot on. Almost all addicts are addicts because they want to be. Absolute best case scenario for successful treatment (with the best inpatient treatment available) is about 17%…and who knows how many relapses they go through to get there. They are social vampires that will suck the life and money out of you and their families. Families have lost life savings and their homes for continuously bailing these people out. The only way they will change is if they hit their rock bottom (if they live to get there), and want/decide to change their lifestyle on their own. Only people who come out ahead are the businesses (especially the owners) that provide “treatment” to these people. How long would an orthopedic surgeon be in business if they were 17% successful in their surgeries? Do you think the government and donors would keep throwing money at them?

    Friday, May 10 @ 6:43 am
  • One

    This is a well rounded distribution of the money by the county. The recovery court manager is an excellent position to have.
    To Mel you have been scammed with bad information.
    The truth is the larger percent of addicted people want a pathway out of their addiction.

    Friday, May 10 @ 7:44 am
  • Mel

    Sandflea,

    Thank you for your excellent post. The more that knowledgeable people like yourself speak out, the fewer people will be victimized by the treatment scam. I know all too well what you are talking about when you speak of people losing their homes and life savings. I was one of those people more than 30 years ago. Since that time I have had the treatment industry under the microscope intensely. I have studied it more than I’ve ever studied anything, and I am engineer by profession. Just say no to “treatment”. Actually trickment is a more appropriate term.

    Friday, May 10 @ 8:01 pm
  • Travis

    Wow. The ignorance in this comments section is strong.

    Addicts are not addicts because they “want to be addicts.” Did some voluntary action on their part start them on the road to addiction. For the most part, I think it is fair to say “yes.” They did ingest, inject or consume whatever drug(s) started them on the path to addiction.

    But then to turn around and say society should just abandon them because they made a bad decision or an illegal decision is an indefensible position.

    How may people are injured in a car crash because they did not wear their seatbelt? Not wearing a seatbelt is both illegal and potentially dangerous. But does EMS arrive on scene and say “oh, no seatbelt” and leave them to die?

    How many people suffer from health conditions from smoking (also a form of addiction, btw)? The adverse affects of smoking are well known: many smokers start in their teens when it is illegal to possess tobacco. But if a smoker shows up at a hospital with congestive heart failure do the doctors say “Sorry, bub, no treatment for weak-willed smokers?

    Addiction can be a disease of the mind and/or body. Treatment success is not great. But we don’t just give up on a sick people.

    Now what is a huge problem in addiction treatment is the dominance of faith-based paths to recovery. Maybe belief in a higher power helps some people, but certainly not everyone. And is absolute quackery to tell an addict “if you put your faith in Jesus he’s going to cure you”. Some of this single minded approach leads to that high failure rate.

    Sunday, May 12 @ 1:39 pm
  • Freenusa

    Just please no more billboards or full page ads that say Fentanyl Kills.

    Sunday, May 12 @ 7:16 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    is that a bad thing?

    Sunday, May 12 @ 8:42 pm
  • Mel

    Travis,

    Perhaps you should write this guy a letter and tell him how ignorant he is.

    https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/addiction-choice

    Monday, May 13 @ 12:06 am
  • One

    Good morning Mark, just checking to see if it’s possible my submission from Mother’s Day morning, where I spent an hour and a half watching the sunrise and trying to articulate some understanding and solutions that address the article and the attitudes.
    I think something went wrong. When I hit the submit button I double clicked then I hit the back button.

    Thank you for all you do. I’m glad OBX voice is here.

    Monday, May 13 @ 5:00 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Thanks One, and I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you saying your post did not go through?

    Monday, May 13 @ 10:15 am
  • Freenusa

    I believe most everyone who can read realizes fentanyl kills, sad but true. These ads/billboards do not benefit the addict, in any shape or form. It only benefits the advertising source. Just my opinion.

    Monday, May 13 @ 8:37 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    We’ve sure heard from a lot of addiction experts who seem to be taking the view that it’s better to curse the darkness.

    Monday, May 13 @ 10:17 am
  • Mel

    Mr. Jurkowitz.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I am assuming that when you write “curse the darkness” you are referring to the sad facts that people ruin their lives with certain drugs, and that fentanyl kills. If that is the case, then I understand what you were saying, but what I don’t think you understand is that there are two sets of darkness here. One is the harm that certain drugs can do to people, and the other is the harm that treatment can do to these same people. The debate of conflicting ideas that you see here on this thread is very similar to the debate that has gone on for many years among addiction experts. Most layman are unaware of this debate, and they just accept whatever the mainstream media propagates. In 2015 a breakthrough article was published in The Atlantic magazine. It was not breakthrough because it presented any new ideas, rather because The Atlantic is somewhat mainstream and it reached a lot of people.

    https://www.npr.org/transcripts/395310213

    Monday, May 13 @ 2:44 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Mel, as I read this interview, the author of that story was talking specifically about one particular program, AA and its 12-step plan, which obviously treats only one form of addiction. I also believe she indicated that other treatments can be helpful.

    Monday, May 13 @ 8:37 pm
  • Ms. Jones

    I’m an addiction specialist with over a decade of experience, having supported hundreds of individuals struggling with addiction. Addiction is now recognized as a neurological condition. Whether it involves alcohol, prescription painkillers, nicotine, gambling, or any other substance or behavior, overcoming addiction isn’t merely a matter of stopping or exerting more control over impulses. When addictive substances enter the brain, they provoke an exaggerated response. Rather than a typical, enjoyable release of dopamine, numerous drugs of abuse—like opioids, cocaine, fentanyl or nicotine—induce a flood of dopamine along the reward pathway, often surpassing natural rewards by tenfold. In the United States, addiction treatment is costly, complex to access, and frequently ineffective, leaving many individuals unsupported. Amidst an opioid crisis that has contributed to over 700,000 drug overdose deaths since 1999, the primary approach to combating addiction in America is fundamentally flawed. That being said, it’s crucial to extend a helping hand to every person grappling with addiction. Every effort, whether it’s holistic, spiritual or medicated assisted, towards supporting those struggling with addiction can make a significant difference in their lives. Addiction does not discriminate and there are people in our every days lives struggling, without you even knowing it. Redirecting even a portion of the energy spent criticizing to helping could significantly impact Dare County’s journey towards a drug-free community. Let’s all show up at the next Saving lives task force meeting to get informed and impact our community.

    Monday, May 13 @ 4:32 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Ms. Jones, what has surprised me about the comments about addiction on the Voice are the number of people who seem to take very a fatalistic view about addiction and seem to oppose the entire idea of treatment. Thanks for your comment.

    Monday, May 13 @ 8:35 pm
  • Mel

    Ms. Jones,

    Thank you for your long and very interesting post.

    Two things stand out;

    “treatment is costly, complex to access, and frequently ineffective”

    “the primary approach to combating addiction in America is fundamentally flawed”

    I especially like #2, Just because we live in the 21st century does not mean that the medical establishment is beyond error.

    Yes, it is frequently ineffective, and the approach is fundamentally flawed. So it really surprises me that Mr. Jurkowitz is surprised that people who know that to be the truth “oppose the entire idea of treatment.” After all, we are talking about public funds being spent on it. Even though this money is not tax money, it is indeed public funds. Just because it is money from a settlement does not mean that it is the personal money of the county commissioners or the Saving Lives Task Force.

    Monday, May 13 @ 11:09 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Mel, official notice that this is your last post on this subject. We all know how you feel. And the money did income from a legal settlement against defendants accused of playing a role in fueling the spread of opioid use. Not sure that could be given to the taxpayers.

    Tuesday, May 14 @ 8:24 am
  • Travis

    @Mel, you can find some crackpot with an MD or Ph.D. to support just about any position you want to take.

    Paul Cameron is a psychologist who regularly babbles about unsupported links between homosexuality, pedophilia and reduced life expectancy. His “research” has been routinely panned by numerous professional psychological organizations.

    The Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo claims Covid vaccines are unsafe and ineffective despite all evidence to the contrary.

    Joseph Mercola, DO is a one man hit parade of bad science, from the dangers of microwaving food to claiming HIV does not cause AIDs.

    The list goes on and definitely includes Dr. Schaler, who I won’t be wasting time to write, but I do thank Ms. Jones for making all the rebuttal points necessary in this discussion.

    Tuesday, May 14 @ 12:50 am
  • One

    I have something to say to the task force and the county commissioners… Thank you
    I repeat this is a well-balanced distribution of the piddly amount of money given to a disease that affects all of us.
    Take a look at How other states are distributing these funds and you will see my thank you is truly sincere. their distribution of these funds is a part of extending our hand to our brother and sisters and their families who suffer.
    To the addict
    Stop the behavior and your lives. Will get progressively better.
    Ironically, opioid addicts,, seek the very thing that is making them sick.

    One fact any recovery starts with stopping the behavior no 12 step, behavior modification treatment program,, community group or well meaning family member will make a difference until you stop the behavior.
    It is next to impossible for a person addicted to opiates to stop on their own.
    We can all talk about this very wide topic of what to do with this person, or that person there is not a cookie-cutter formula, but every single recovery starts with a stopping of the substance or substances that the individual is taking.
    If I could wave my magic wand, there would be a 15 day to 30 day detox that is completely voluntary and free.

    Tuesday, May 14 @ 6:53 am