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New report provides detailed insight into how CT cities are spending opioid settlement money

Ceremonies were held around Connecticut to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on August 30,2023. In New Britain’s Walnut Hill Park, Tom Fulton, with the Wheeler Clinic, affixed one of 1,464 white flags honoring the 1,464 people who fatally overdosed in Connecticut last year.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Ceremonies were held around Connecticut to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on August 30,2023. In New Britain’s Walnut Hill Park, Tom Fulton, with the Wheeler Clinic, affixed one of 1,464 white flags honoring the 1,464 people who fatally overdosed in Connecticut last year.

A state committee set up to allocate settlement funds from opioid manufacturers and distributors has just issued its first report detailing how each city and town is spending the money.

The document provides a unique insight into how municipalities are spending $9.34 million of settlement dollars. So far, about $1 million has been allocated and itemized.

All but three of the state’s 169 cities and towns have reported on their spending priorities, which spans everything from procuring medication, to providing overdose education and training.

Connecticut is ahead of the curve in its reporting, said Christine Minhee, an attorney who maintains a website tracking national opioid settlements.

“I'm pleasantly surprised and kind of astounded because the level of reporting that is typical from other jurisdictions has been something like amount spent plus maybe a one to two sentence description of uses,” Minhee said. “Connecticut goes a lot further than that.”

Documents reveal that both the level of granularity and the nature of funding varied between cities.

Hartford received roughly $513,000, data show. It spent nearly $110,000 to aid people impacted by the criminal justice system who were unhoused and living with mental illness. The money was allocated toward existing programs at the nonprofit Community Partners in Action.

Waterbury spent roughly $74,000 of the total $444,912 it received on hiring outreach workers to conduct street-level training on fentanyl test strips, identifying overdose victims and administering Narcan and CPR.

In Bridgeport, about $108,000 of the roughly $300,000 received was spent on the direct distribution of Narcan.

Other cities are still waiting to allocate their funds. In New Haven, officials are still trying to determine how to spend about $560,000 in settlement money.

The details contained in the report give insights into allocations and spending, but go further, Minhee said, providing insight into whether a municipality is collaborating with other municipalities, who the money will help, and detailing how cities plan to use the funds.

“Those are multiple parameters of information which I think is enviable for a lot of jurisdictions,” Minhee said. “I think a lot of states, let alone localities, struggle with living up to their reporting promises.”

Other smaller denominations went into non-opioid-related spending. Bridgewater, for instance, received about $1,137 and spent all of it on providing energy assistance to those in need.

Of the $600 million in state settlement funds expected in the next 20 years, 15% is allocated for municipalities.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.
Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show 'Where We Live.' She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH.

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