Rasmus said now it probably won’t have to ask the voters for a combined levy until 2020.
“Now we are taking our existing budget and recognizing we want to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money we’re able to probably get out about three or four years,” Rasmus said.
MORE: Butler County mental health and addiction board has $3.6 million opiate epidemic plan
“Obviously you can’t think of every contingency, but as long as there isn’t a major change, such as Medicaid expansion going away, we should be able to support our opiate business plan and mental health services at a level we feel comfortable with.”
At the end of November the Butler County coroner’s office had 184 confirmed overdose deaths, and as of Thursday that number was up to 191 with several cases pending toxicology results, according to Martin Schneider, administrator of the office.
The opiate plan is a multi-pronged attack that includes detox services, recovery housing, 300 Narcan kits for family and friends, additional residential treatment beds and prevention education.
The $3.6 million plan was established a year and a half ago to tackle the opiate problem. Rasmus said unfortunately attempts to get outside funding haven’t been very successful. They have reallocated only $600,000 in state funding to the plan, before they began brainstorming with Young and the prosecutor.
He said they will likely use about $2 million worth of mental health levy reserve dollars, but they are still looking at other funding avenues.
“We may have 15 months worth of reserves now but with $2 million spent on the opiate business plan, plus mental health new programming, that’s going to pare that down from 15, to 12 to eight to six as you’re going out in years,” Rasmus said. “When you have reserves, you’ve got to make sure you can make it out to your next levy cycle.”
MORE: Butler County commissioners sue drug companies and distributors in federal court
The county commissioners recently sued drug companies and distributors for $5 million in federal court, hoping to be able to help attack the opiate epidemic. Commissioner T.C. Rogers said the problem is huge and people need to understand its reach is not just to the addicts themselves but all the county services — the jail, Children Services, court system are a few — that are impacted.
“There is a cost to society as a result of what’s happening here,” he said. “So how do you bring that cost down or make it manageable?”