There is good news and bad news for cities and counties grappling with the opioid epidemic. A settlement has been reached in class action lawsuits filed against the pharmaceutical companies that will result in a $21 billion payout – but spread out over 19 years.
The parties involved have agreed to a split of 45 percent of the settlement money going to states and 55 percent to local government. In Oregon, that works out to an estimated $180 million available for distribution direct to cities and counties.
Hermiston’s share is expected to be around $230,000 in the best-case scenario – again, spread out over 19 years.
On Monday, the Hermiston City Council gave City Manager Byron Smith authority to accept the settlement money.
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann cautioned not to get too excited about the money and the impact it could have.
“It’s not a huge amount of money that we’re going to be able to do a bunch of work with, unfortunately,” said Drotzmann. “And they gave them such a long term to pay it off that you really can’t make a significant contribution to a program with one lump sum. But free money is free money and I’m not going to turn it down.”
Smith agreed, but added the city could potentially partner with the county and the city of Pendleton and pool resources to fund an effective program to help those suffering from opioid addiction.
“I’d be supportive of something like that,” said Drotzmann.