Opioid Settlement Payouts to King County Cities Range from a Few Thousand Dollars to Millions

Map of fatal overdoses in King County, 2021; data available on King County’s overdose information site.

By Erica C. Barnett

Today is the deadline for cities and counties across the state to sign on as participants in the state’s $518 million settlement with the nation’s three largest opioid distributors, and it now appears all but certain that enough jurisdictions will sign agreements that the state will be able to keep the funds. As we reported earlier this week, the settlement—the result of a case Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought against the big pill distributors for their role in fueling opiate addiction—won’t be finalized unless all of Washington’s counties, and most of its cities, agree to participate.

The settlement will be split evenly between the state and local jurisdictions, with cities and counties receiving payouts worth a total of up to $203 million over the next 17 years based on a calculation that considers three factors—the number of deaths from opioid overdoses, the prevalence of opioid use disorder, and the quantity of opioids shipped to each jurisdiction—equally. Cities and counties have to spend the money on treatment, prevention, harm reduction, and other programs designed to reduce the harm of opiate addiction.

At a meeting of the Burien City Council this past Monday, council members expressed disappointment in both the size of the city’s allocation and the fact that cities won’t be able to receive their funds in a lump sum, which would provide more spending flexibility.

Some cities have been disappointed by the amount they’re set to receive. Burien, where there several dozen overdoses (from all causes) in 2021, stands to receive around $55,000 from the settlement, paid out in chunks of $2,700 per year after a first-year lump sum of around $5,400.

According to Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Brionna Aho, the distribution of funds was “negotiated by the local governments. The state was not a party to those negotiations and had no part in deciding how much each city or county would receive.”

At a meeting of the Burien City Council this past Monday, council members expressed disappointment in both the size of the city’s allocation and the fact that cities won’t be able to receive their funds in a lump sum, which would provide more spending flexibility.

“I do know that this is not much allocation to our city, and honestly I was disappointed that there was not more information shared from the Attorney General’s Office,” Councilmember Jimmy Matta said at the meeting. “At the same time, I know that the attorney general [fulfilled] his obligation as the attorney for the state.” Council members suggested that they might use the money to buy more doses of the opioid-reversal drug Narcan, or pool it with other jurisdictions to get more bang for the buck.

According to Burien City Manager Adolfo Bailon, there was never any question that the city would sign on to the settlement. “I think they were just interested in learning how the money can be distributed in a different way,” Bailon told PubliCola.

“We’re just grateful that something’s being done,” he added. “I am sure that we can put it to use some way or another.”

Other cities in King County will receive larger or smaller amounts based the formulas in a memorandum of understanding between the cities. Issaquah, for example, will receive about $380,000; Kent, around $1.1 million; and Seattle a little over $12 million. The smallest payout in King County will go to the city of Newcastle, which will receive a total of around $6,700. King County, which directly funds treatment and other services, will receive just over $28 million.

2 thoughts on “Opioid Settlement Payouts to King County Cities Range from a Few Thousand Dollars to Millions”

  1. There should be a park for non moving vehicles. Travel trailer park for homeless. Hurrah on your efforts. Try and succeed…..

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