The first official steps to create and fund and an advisory board to help tackle the opioid epidemic in Bartholomew County passed its first step Tuesday night. The board would be comprised of officials from the city, county, Columbus Regional Health and other stakeholders in determining what projects and programs would benefit from public funding. Mary Ferdon, the city’s director of administration, says that work began over one year ago.
Ferdon says this is a defining moment for Columbus.
Ferdon says the need to address the epidemic is not only humanitarian, but fiscally responsible as well.
The city council voted 6-0 to approve the ordinances creating and funding the bodies. Elaine Wagner was not present.
Ferdon explains that the measure now goes to the county commissioners for their approval. Once both the city and county give final approval, an agreement linking the two bodies would need to be approved. Ferdon says that is likely still months away. She stresses that any use of city tax-dollars would need to be approved by the city council. To aid in that, the council also created a non-reverting fund from which money could be drawn for future projects related to the opioid fight. Mayor Jim Lienhoop noted that, during last year’s budget negotiations, the city agreed to set aside $250,000 for this endeavor.