Comanche County Commissioners are supporting an initiative that could create a regional facility to treat drug addiction.
The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to retain the Center for Economic Development Law to provide professional services in connection with the formation and establishment of a public trust. The $5,000 allocation from the county’s opioid abatement settlement helps fund the legal effort needed to create a public trust among counties in Southwest Oklahoma, including Comanche County.
According to the commissioner’s agenda, the trust’s goal is to use opioid settlement funds and/or grants to “establish, own and operate a treatment facility” focused on opioid and other drug addictions. After the meeting, Western District Commissioner Josh Powers, who chairs the board of commissioners, said the action was specifically requested by the District Attorney’s Office.
In January, District Attorney Kyle Cabelka said he supports the idea of regional treatment facilities to battle addiction, to include the highly addictive and deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Cabelka said then he was partnering with district attorneys in Southwest Oklahoma’s 16 counties to develop a plan to provide resources for drug diversion, noting, “There’s just not enough resources in Southwest Oklahoma to address this need.” He said the goal is to broaden diversion efforts, a move that would take drugs off the street as well as lessen the impact drug addition has on the state’s health system.
Funding for that treatment system could come from opioid abatement settlement funds, as well as State Attorney General grants and funds saved through prison cost savings realized through the Smart Justice Reform Act.
In Oklahoma, state law allows the state or any county or municipality to create public trusts that can issue obligations and provide funds for purposes specifically set by the charter creating the trust. The entity(s) creating the trust are the beneficiaries, under that state law. In Lawton and Comanche County, public trusts include the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority that issues funding to qualified economic projects, using funds created by a county sales tax; and the Lawton Economic Development Authority, which handles economic development projects and Tax Increment Financing Districts for the City of Lawton.
The Center for Economic Development Law provides legal services for municipalities, counties, public trusts and other local public entities. Locally, it has worked with the City of Lawton to create Tax Increment Financing districts.