“Counties are bringing in freezer trucks to handle all the bodies because they have no place to put them from all the overdoses,” said Lorain County commissioner Ted Kalo.
With overdoses claiming so many lives, the board decided unanimously on June 28 to place a .08-mill renewal on the November ballot. If successful, it will re-up funds for the Lorain County Drug Task Force.
“We’re never going to eliminate the illegal trafficking of drugs in Lorain County,” said county administrator James Cordes. “We’re just going to make it hard and difficult for those people to operate. That’s got to be the goal.”
Taxpayers are stretched thin, he said. That’s why the ballot issue is a renewal, which won’t raise taxes — Cordes said there is support for the existing .08 mills.
Commissioner Lori Kokoski received phone calls from community members who are in favor of a renewal, but not an increase. She said they didn’t feel homeowners are the ones who “need to get the bad guys or worry about the drug dealers or the addicts out there.”
It’s important for taxpayers to know the Ohio legislature is entertaining the idea of taking $35 million away from local governments, which means less money for police, said commissioner Matt Lundy.
Regardless of finances, he emphasized that the biggest part of the issue is treating addicts.
“You can’t arrest your way out of this. And we’ve go to get people back on their feet. You can’t give up on them. You can’t just simply say, ‘Let them die with a needle in their arm.’ These are people’s loved ones. We need to be able to treat these folks, get them back on track, get them back with their families so they can own a home, drive a car, work at a job, and pay taxes.”
Nodding in agreement, Kokoski said every community is not only hurting with this epidemic but hurting financially, which is hindering treatment and prevention.
The current state budget is taking away resources that could be used to fight the sweeping crisis, Lundy said, leaving the community to take care of itself. He stressed that resources should be going where they’re needed — to the local level.
“I think Columbus gets some sick satisfaction out of making local leaders look bad because we’re the ones who have to keep going back to the community asking for more resources when they’re sitting on a boat load of 2 billion dollars in rainy day funds,” he said.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.