Substance-abuse funding drops 23 percent this year

A source of funding used by more than a dozen Columbus area agencies involved in substance-abuse programs will drop by 23 percent this year. The $37,490 being provided to 13 organizations through the Bartholomew County Substance Abuse Council is down by $11,255.

The money — raised largely through fees collected from intoxicated drivers and substance-abuse offenders — was obtained by the council through a grant program administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, council president Lynn Pittman told the Bartholomew County commissioners.

A spokesman for the state told Pittman across-the-board cuts were made to similar agencies and organizations located throughout Indiana’s 92 counties due to declining revenue, she said.

“If you talk to the police, you’ll see the drug arrests aren’t down,” county attorney Grant Tucker said.

“This is reflective of the entire atmosphere of state government,” commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said. “They delegate responsibilities down to lower levels, but we’re getting less to take care of them.”

In their recommendations for grant allocations, efforts were made to ensure that no single agency saw a significant shift in funding, council vice president Andrea Vogel said.

In order to do that, the council only took $590 for administrative costs and conferences, an 82 percent decrease from the $3,245 the council allocated for itself last year.

The funding recommendations for the 13 organizations were unanimously approved by the commissioners Monday.

About 32 percent of the funds will be spent for substance-abuse programs run by criminal justice organizations, she said. Additionally, 30 percent will be spent on treatment, 29 percent for prevention and about 9 percent for administrative expenses.

Noting that two recipients are faith-based organizations, Kleinhenz said he is usually cautious regarding providing public funds to church programs.

“But I’ve heard so many good things about the Community Church of Columbus’ Tuesday Connection,” Kleinhenz said.

The commissioner was referring to an informal-but-focused program offered by the church at 3850 N. Marr Road that provides a range of support groups for children and adults.

While Tuesday Connection received $4,900, down from $5,000 last year, the other church-based program is the Intensive Outpatient Program at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Designated as a certified addiction-treatment services provider by the state of Indiana, the LifeWorks intensive outpatient program at St. Peter’s will receive its first grant from the council this year in the amount of $1,500.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.