A rural county’s selection: Use opioid funds to repay debt, or pay them ahead to curb disaster

Over the previous two years, rural Greene County in northeastern Tennessee has collected greater than $2.7 million from regional and nationwide settlements with opioid producers and distributors. However as an alternative of serving to individuals harmed by habit, county officers are discovering different methods to spend it.

They’ve   put $2.4 million towards paying off the county’s debt and have   directed one other   $1 million arriving over greater than a decade right into a capital tasks fund. In March, they appropriated $50,000 from that fund to purchase a “litter crew automobile” — a pickup truck to drive inmates to gather trash alongside county roads.

“It’s astounding,” stated Nancy Schneck, a retired nurse who has seen habit infiltrate the group, the place employers keep away from drug testing for concern of shedding too many staff and psychological well being crises and homelessness are rampant. She desires to see the cash go towards psychological well being and habit therapy. Why can’t county leaders “see treating some individuals and possibly getting them out of this cycle is likely to be advantageous?” she stated.