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Opioid abatement funds contract returned to committee

Posted on Friday, March 8, 2024 at 8:30 am

LACIE SILVA

Editor

 

The contract presented by Commissioner Logan Campbell of the ethics committee on behalf of the Opioid Abatement Funds was rejected for further specifications and changes.

Commissioner Campbell advised the Marion County Commissioner (MCC) board that the ethics committee had the opportunity to address the opioid team on January 11, during which they asked questions and reviewed the contract. The committee meticulously compared all documentation and requirements with those outlined by county and state policies. After thorough examination, they concluded that everything was in accordance and recommended to the board to proceed with the contract.

Commissioner Dennis Rollins initiated the discussion by proposing an amendment to the motion, suggesting that those not mandated to undergo a federal audit receive their funding in two installments. He recommended the first installment be disbursed at the start of the year, with the second distributed mid-year. Chairwoman Linda Mason responded by proposing quarterly distributions instead and expressed her opinion that lump sum payments should not be made.

Commissioner Ruric Brandt inquired as to the basis or precedent for the proposed disbursement schedule. Chairwoman Mason referred the board to the contract, while Commissioner Logan indicated that the total amount was known, and the board would need to determine the schedule for distributing the funds, should they choose not to do so in a lump sum. Chairwoman Mason then questioned Commissioner Logan further, who agreed that the funds be disbursed quarterly.

Commissioner Brandt asked to verify the disbursement terms with David Berry, of the opioid team, to ensure that the funds and timing align with their requirements. Commissioner Steven Franklin noted that the disbursement terms had not been previously addressed and emphasized the importance of having comprehensive information on purchases and funding to aid in meeting their needs and providing optimal terms for financial assistance. He suggested that the committee discuss any gaps in the contract and articulate their needs accordingly. Commissioner Paul Schafer proposed implementing a threshold system for disbursements, setting the threshold at $10,000, and recommending semi-annual disbursements for amounts exceeding that threshold, while suggesting that any amount less than the threshold could be provided in a lump sum.

Commissioner Gene Hargis stated that he didn’t have a particular problem with any specific disbursement plan. However, he expressed his lack of support for funding any organization that wasn’t subjected to an audit. He made it clear that he would not vote to distribute funds to such organizations as a consequence of this stance.

Chairwoman Mason called for a vote on the motions regarding the disbursement of funds as they were currently written, without any amendments. There were some clarifications made regarding the implications of the vote. If commissioners wanted the terms to be revisited by the committee for a workshop to discuss disbursement needs, they would need to oppose the motion. However, it was emphasized that regardless of the outcome, the amount of funds to be disbursed would not change.

Commissioner Don Adkins voiced his agreement with Commissioner Hargis and sought clarification from Attorney Gouger regarding the possibility of implementing provisions requiring an annual audit process. Attorney Gouger confirmed that such provisions could be included and explained that all non-profit entities receiving funding are required to undergo an audit as a condition of receiving the funds.

Commissioner Franklin suggested adopting a system similar to that of other entities, wherein they would be open to an audit at any point and would not refuse one upon request. After further discussion and clarification, Chairwoman Mason simplified the options for the vote: a “yes” vote would signify approval of the contract as it was, while a “no” vote would indicate a desire for changes to be made. Following this clarification, Commissioner Logan withdrew his motion.

Mayor David Jackson proposed a vote to recommend changes to the contract and send it back to the Opioid Abatement team for further discussion with the ethics committee. Commissioner Schafer made a motion for approval, which was seconded by Commissioner Hargis. The board unanimously approved the motion.

The Marion Tribune – March 7, 2024