SEMINOLE — The city of Seminole has decided to attach its name to a state lawsuit seeking money available from a nationwide settlement with pharmaceutical companies.
By a 7-0 vote, the city passed a resolution to sign on to the allocation agreement.
By doing so, the city agrees to sign a memorandum of understanding with the state of Florida for funds that are to come out of lawsuits against pharmaceutical corporations to address elements of the opioid crisis.
Florida is projected to be allocated between $250 million and $320 million that’s to be shared with cities and counties around the state, City Attorney Jay Daigneault has said.
Under the agreement, Seminole could receive between $10,000 and $18,000 per year over a 10-year period.
The exact annual revenue would be determined after the state calculated exactly how many municipalities had signed on to the lawsuit, said Mark Ely, director of community development for Seminole.
“Once all these agreements go up (to the state government), they’ll end up figuring out what goes on, and whatever money you get would be part of the partnership,” Bly said.
The council first discussed joining the suit at its May and June meetings. At the time, some officials expressed concerns over whether the cost of administering the money may offset the amount received, and how they could accept it.
According to the agreement, money from the opioid settlement could only be used in certain ways, including drug abatement and education and substance abuse treatment programs and services — two things the city doesn’t currently provide.
Council members previously had asked about the city’s administrative burden in accepting funds.
Daigneault said governments that received money would be required to submit an annual report explaining how it used the money. “By Aug. 31 each year, you have to tell them how you spent your money,” he said.
City Manager Ann Toney-Deal in June described the federal requirements for reporting how fund money is used as “onerous,” and recommended that the city not apply for the money.
However, Ely told the council that the agreement allows for Seminole to partner with another government entity, and therefore not be required to create its own opioid services program.
“Obviously, we don’t have to do that,” Ely said.
According to the resolution, Seminole officials have considered allocating the city share of any funds to Pinellas County.
Pinellas County is estimated to get $886,586 to $477,392 from the settlement agreement.
Seeking to clarify the terms of resolution passed by the council, council member Chris Burke said that approval of the resolution essentially just adds Seminole to the opioid lawsuit partnership.
“I’m just pointing out that through this motion — if approved — we are only agreeing to join this settlement, and not agreeing to any use of this money at this time,” Burke said.
Burke at the June 22 council meeting said the city would find practical uses for the funds.
“We could definitely find a way to use it,” Burke said.
In other news, the council unanimously agreed for the city to enter into a development agreement with the Lake Seminole Animal Hospital.
Located on a roughly one-acre tract at 8578 Park Blvd., the hospital owner Mike Rumore’s site plan calls for building an estimated $1 million extension to the animal hospital.
“Dr. Rumore wants to spend about $1 million to add an addition to the building, clean up the landscaping, the whole nine yards,” said Ely.
The council will hold two public hearings before holding a vote on whether to grant final approval on the agreement.