Carver County stands to gain some $2 million to $2.5 million from the nationwide civil litigation against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids related to the opioid crisis.
At its meeting Dec. 21, the county board of commissioners passed a resolution approving a national opioid settlement and state sub-division agreement that ensures Carver County’s participation in the settlement and accompanying agreements. The state of Minnesota and numerous counties and cities have been engaged nationwide against pharmaceutical distributors like McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmericsourceBergen, and drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.
Nationally, as overdose deaths climb, the four largest health corporations have agreed to a landmark $26 billion payout for their role in America’s deadly opioid epidemic. The state of Minnesota will receive an estimated $296 million, with up to 75 percent of the monies distributed back to local governments for their own use in addressing opioid issues. In agreeing to the state subdivision agreement, the county will work together with the state to amend state law relating to the state’s use of opioid funds, according to County Attorney Mark Metz.
Metz indicated that agreeing to a settlement will avoid the significant time and expense of continuing to pursue litigation against the big pharmaceuticals. Payments of settlement dollars will likely begin in late 2022.
The county board session last Tuesday was the final meeting of the year, and commissioners spent the last part of the meeting reviewing county accomplishments. Among them, continued efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, such as incorporating new models to provide services to residents, like virtual, phone and drive-up. Also, administering protective actions such as virus testing and vaccines. The county administered 50,000 vaccine doses directly.
In addition, Carver County allocated some $34 million in federal stimulus funding to address pandemic related effects. That includes funding for health and human services, mental health, housing, broadband, business assistance and more.
Other accomplishments included several road projects, notably the start of the long-awaited expansion of Highway 212 to a four land-expressway from Carver to Cologne, and ultimately out to Norwood Young America.
From a public safety standpoint, the Carver County Sheriff’s office began rolling out body-worn cameras for deputies to increase transparency, and provide visual and audio evidence that can independently verify citizen contact events.
Among other accomplishments highlighted were trail and park improvements like the Highway 5 regional trail to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the continued evolution of Lake Waconia Regional Park. And environmentally, the application of new technology to monitor aquatic life in county lakes and streams to gauge water quality.
The county also was ranked the healthiest county in the state for the ninth year in a row. Financially, the county retained a AAA bond rating for the 10th year running.