The council tasked with distributing nearly $118 million in settlement funds from the companies accused of fueling the opioid epidemic is asking the public for their top priorities for spending the money.
The Maine Recovery Council will hold a public forum Nov. 2 at University of Maine Augusta’s Jewett Hall at 46 University Drive from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Members of the public who want to provide testimony in-person will have three minutes to speak and are asked to submit written copies of their testimony to the council at the forum, or via email to email@example.com. The public can submit written testimony to the same email, regardless of whether they speak at the forum.
The forum will be livestreamed for those who wish to watch but not participate via Zoom.
The council is also accepting responses to a survey until Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.
The 15-member council is tasked with distributing half of the $235 million in settlement funds Maine expects to receive over 18 years. The council has met monthly since its first meeting in November 2022.
As of this August, it has received more than $17 million from the settlements, but has yet to spend any of it.
At their August meeting, council member and Gov. Janet Mills’ director of opioid response, Gordon Smith, said, “I don’t think any of us want to be here in November on the first anniversary date of receiving this money and say that we haven’t spent any of it. Pretty soon people are going to look at Maine and say they’re falling behind.”
Over the past several months, council members have said they need to hear from the public before they can make any spending decisions.
A discussion on the public forum and survey is on the agenda for the council’s Nov. 9 meeting. They have not yet said when the first tranche of money will be distributed.