County looks to intensify fight against heroin, drug task force levy could be increased

By Jonathan Delozier -

“We’re going to rain terror on the opiate epidemic, and I mean rain terror,” said Lorain County administrator James Cordes.

While presenting options for a prospective levy benefiting the Lorain County Drug Task Force to county commissioners June 14, Cordes said a “big announcement” is coming regarding the continued struggle against heroin and opioid addiction in the area.

Cordes declined to offer specifics but implied a new collaboration was in the works between emergency response agencies in the area and beyond.

The meeting’s agenda stated that a .080-mill replacement and .080-mill renewal would be discussed, but commissioners also agreed to examine a .090-mill increase.

Once county auditor Craig Snodgrass calculates how much revenue would be generated by each option, they will be presented to commissioners for a vote to go on November’s ballot, which Cordes said could happen by June 28.

“We’re going to have to fund a few things,” he said. “But it’s time to do that. I realize arresting people and taking drugs off the street is an important part of the process but we have to keep taking them off the street. Current funding is OK but it could be better, which is why I want to look at .090.”

Cordes said conversations with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency through the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office have led him to believe “something big is coming.”

“I look at the numbers and news about heroin deaths and it’s completely unacceptable,” he said. “While we need resources to help those struggling with addiction, we also need resources to cut off access to these drugs. That means illegal substances and the legal substances that are somehow being introduced into illegal use.”

Commissioner Matt Lundy said the current state budget is taking away community resources that could be used to fight the epidemic.

“This is another example of how we basically have to take care of ourselves,” he said. “Columbus certainly isn’t helping us out. I guess the plan right now is to take $35 million in local government funds to help fund the opioid fight when those funds are needed for our own safety forces to be out there investigating and doing their jobs. There’s still a $2 billion rainy day fund that could also be used for the opioid fight.”

“We’ve got to take this stuff on the street and make this area an uncomfortable place to do business,” Cordes added. “If these people move in and they’re not harassed, it’s just too easy. We need to continue to harass. We need to make them move around. We need to make things difficult for them.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier