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County Designates Areas For Funding

Roosevelt County commissioners approved where to earmark alcohol tax funds during their weekly meeting on Tuesday, April 2.

The process is to allow commissioners to designate a state-approved substance use disorder treatment and prevention provider to receive the county’s alcohol tax funds.

Commissioners unanimously decided to keep sending the roughly $20,000 annually to Eastern Montana Mental Health, which provides the most services and features a 17-county board.

In addition, commissioners approved the inter-local agreement formation, authority and administration of abatement region 1 for the opioid settlement. The settlement holds the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal, McKesso and Amerisource Bergen — and Johnson & Johnson — accountable for their roles in fueling the national opioid epidemic and the harm it has caused. Montana is anticipated to receive $80 million total through the settlement.

Commissioner Gordon Oelkers explained the funds come in two forms. One pot goes to the state and then to each region. The other pot heads directly to counties.

The agreement approved at the meeting has Roosevelt County part of a 17-county region for the administration, management and use of opioid remediation funds. Oelkers is one of the representatives on that board.

Commissioners also discussed Senate Bill 442 and a letter of support from the Montana Association of Counties against Gov. Gianforte’s veto of the bill. The bill deals with the distribution of marijuana taxes.

As MACo board members, Oelkers and Gary Macdonald each signed the bill in support of Senate Bill 442.

Commissioner Macdonald pointed out that counties will receive 20 percent of the funds while the state keeps the rest. Macdonald called the governor’s behavior underhanded in the matter.

The funds help in such areas as disabled veterans assistance, trails, state parks and county roads.

In the county’s case with Lynn Labatte involving a road, the county’s legal representation in the case noted that the proposed settlement could create more problems. She recommended the commissioners rescind the settlement proposal.

Commissioners approved rescinding the draft for the settlement agreement. Parties will continue to work to reach an agreement. Commissioners will aim for an improved resolution to remove public access for some parts of the road.

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