October 26, 2021 – Today, County Commissioners approved a Colorado Opioids Settlement Memorandum of Understanding “Colorado MOU” with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. In August of this year, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser signed the Colorado MOU, prepared by local government stakeholders and the State, outlining how the State of Colorado would receive and distribute settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors for contributing to the opioid epidemic across our nation.
Commissioners recognize the devastating impacts the opioid crisis has had on public health and safety, both locally and nationally. Under the agreement signed today, settlement funds will be used for the benefit of the citizens of El Paso County, in accordance with the purposes specified in the Colorado MOU.
The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across the nation,” said El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez, Jr. “The Colorado MOU is a gateway to funding that will open the door to education and treatment for those struggling with addiction across El Paso County, thereby saving lives. “I want to thank all commissioners and staff for their efforts that benefited the State and El Paso County in retaining additional funds with the settlement, which will go toward investing in our community’s health and healing from the opioid crisis.”
The State of Colorado is expected to receive over $300 million if at least 95% of all Colorado local governments with a population of 10,000 or greater sign the Colorado MOU. The Colorado MOU provides the framework for fairly dividing and sharing settlement proceeds among state and local governments within Colorado. Although the settlement is not yet finalized, and thus the total amount Colorado receives is not yet known, under the Colorado MOU, 20% of all funds received will be directly distributed to all participating local governments in Colorado over a period of 18 years. El Paso County is expected to receive approximately 18.41% of that funding stream to be used to opioid abatement purposes.
Additionally, 60% of all funds received will be distributed to local regions. El Paso and Teller Counties and partnering municipalities are designated as a region and are expected to receive 12.6% of that fund also to be used for opioid abatement purposes. Based on initial estimates of the State receiving in excess of $300 million, El Paso County anticipates receiving approximately $100,000 a year as direct local government payments, and approximately $1.0 to $1.6 million a year as the El Paso/Teller region. However, these numbers are subject to change based on the final and actual amount the State of Colorado receives as part of the settlement.
Local governments in El Paso and Teller counties anticipate forming a Regional Abatement Council to ensure that opioid funds are distributed according to the Colorado MOU. The MOU also outlines the appropriate use of funds including treatment, intervention, training, and research.
The State Attorney General has asked all participating local governments to execute and return the Colorado MOU by November 5, 2021. It is anticipated that, if the settlement is successful, the State of Colorado could start seeing funds as soon as July of 2022.