PITTSBORO — Chatham County Board of Commissioners have approved funding from the state provided through opioid settlements from major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.
The funds will bring more than $4 million to the county budget over the next 17 years to help curb the opioid epidemic.
In 2021 alone, 28 Chatham residents died from opioid overdoses, according to the Chatham County Public Health Department. This means the county rate of opioid-related overdose deaths, 38.7 deaths per 100,000 residents, surpassed the state average death rate of 34.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.
The board approved two separate opioid settlement funds during its meeting Monday night at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro. The first funds would give the county roughly $2.9 million over 17 years, or about $170,000 per year. Those funds will be used to fund a full-time overdose prevention coordinator for the county who will work under the public health department. These funds will also be used to purchase marketing materials, data tracking tools and professional training for county employees.
In July 2021, North Carolina announced a $26 billion agreement with pharmaceutical distributors of opioids to bring resources to communities harmed by the opioid epidemic. Plans for these funds were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The board was presented plans for this funding in last September through a presentation from the Sheriff’s Prevention Partnership on Controlled Substances, which is made up of stakeholders in Chatham Drug Free, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Chatham County Public Health Department, Chatham County Dept. of Social Services and more. Those plans were officially approved Monday.
The second approved fund will bring an additional $2.3 million in funds to the county over 13 years, or about $178,000 per year. Both approved funds are front-loaded, meaning the county receives more funding from these settlements in the first two years and less in the latter stages. The increased initial funding will be used to onboard the county coordinator and purchase the necessary research and marketing tools.
The second approved funds became available to the county when the state settled a lawsuit against Walmart Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Allergan Finance LLC, Allergan Limited, CVS Health Corporation, CVS Pharmacy Inc. and Walgreens Co.
The board said the funds will “demonstrate solidarity in response to the opioid overdose crisis, and to maximize the share of opioid settlement funds received both in the state and this county to help abate the harm,” according to the resolution approving the settlement.
• Several rezoning requests were approved by the board in the Moncure area. This includes the Sky Mart, owned by Hardip Dhillon located on Old U.S. 1 Hwy. Sky Mart will move to a nearby location to make way for interchange improvements to the area from the N.C. Dept. of Transportation. Those improvements are part of NCDOT’s plans to improve roads leading to the incoming VinFast facility in the area. The approved rezoning occurred in the consent agenda, meaning it was not subject to public discussion.
Other approved rezonings in the consent agenda concerned Fitch Creations, which is developing a 43-lot subdivision over 51 acres near Fearrington Village called Granville. The first plat review was approved, meaning the board approved proposed plans from the developer for the site.
• The board heard an update from the Chatham County Conventions and Visitors Bureau. Neha Shah, director of the bureau, said tourism is recovering well from the pandemic and she believes the construction of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Pittsboro will help generate more funds through sales tax and tourism dollars for the area.
The next Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday, April 17, at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center. For more information visit www.chathamcountync.gov/government/board-of-commissioners.
Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @b_rappaport
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