Government, Latest News, Monongalia County

Mon Commission to host 13-county meeting to select one member of opiate settlement board

MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission learned Monday that it has about a month to bring 13 counties together to elect one person to help oversee the distribution of hundreds of millions of opiate settlement dollars.  

A letter from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office explained the articles of incorporation for the West Virginia First Foundation were filed on May 18 and the foundation’s initial board of directors must be elected within 60 days of that date (July 17). 

The foundation is the mechanism created for the distribution of opiate settlement funds statewide. 

To date, the state has compelled more than $1 billion in settlements from multiple defendants involved in manufacturing, distributing, selling or dispensing opiates in West Virginia. 

From each settlement received by the state, 24.5% will go directly to local governments (counties, cities, towns and villages) based on a negotiated percentage. For example, Monongalia County’s negotiated percentage is 1.487%; Morgantown’s is .1330%. 

A vast majority of each settlement, 72.5%, will be distributed by the 11-member West Virginia First Foundation. That body will be comprised of five members appointed by the governor and one member from each of the state’s six abatement regions. 

Monongalia County is in Region 4 along with Preston, Marion, Braxton, Lewis, Harrison, Taylor, Tucker, Barbour, Randolph, Gilmer, Doddridge and Upshur counties. 

As the most-populous county in Region 4, Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom must convene a meeting of all local governments in the region to nominate and elect a regional director to the foundation. 

Morrisey’s office provided a framework for how to conduct the meetings, which will be subject to the West Virginia Open Meetings Act. 

Each local government must send one delegate to the meeting authorized to vote on its behalf, but votes will be weighted using the negotiated allocation percentages described above.  

Nominees are encouraged to have expertise in substance abuse treatment, mental health, law enforcement, pharmacology, finance and healthcare policy and management. Nomination of current elected officials is strongly discouraged. 

Monongalia County Administrator Rennetta McClure said she’s communicating with Melanie Pagliaro of the County Commissioners’ Association of West Virginia, who is in turn working with the West Virginia Municipal League to make sure all municipalities are informed of the forthcoming meeting date. 

“We’ll be looking at dates soon,” McClure said, adding the commission needs to begin looking at any potential nominees it may want to put forward.   

“If anybody is interested, please let us know. We would be happy to take any names,” she said. “But as a county commission, you all just get one nomination.” 

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