More Money for Recovery Centers in Budget Adjustment

By Steph Machado

Published 02/25 2014 03:47PM

Updated 02/26 2014 12:11PM

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vermont) signed the mid-year budget adjustment into law Tuesday, choosing to do so at the HowardCenter clinic, which will receive part of $200,000 going toward recovery centers.

The budget adjustment adds funds to the the current year's budget for unanticipated costs.

"Right now it's just about 200 people on the active waiting list," said Bob Bick, director of the HowardCenter. The HowardCenter saw 16,000 people last year, one-third of which were substance abuse patients. There's a backlog of those waiting to get help.

"We've essentially had to front the dollars in order to bring new staff on and raise enough revenue to support them," Bick said.

The budget adjustment should help alleviate that.

"When people are ready to accept their disease, right now we often say to them 'we can't help,'" said Governor Shumlin before he signed the bill into law. "What this budget adjustment does is advance the money to ensure that places like this treatment center here in South Burlington can stop saying 'we can't help you because we've got waiting lines.'"

He said the increased funding would benefit taxpayers because it costs more to put a drug addict in jail than it does to treat them.

It also didn't go unnoticed that of all the HowardCenter locations, he chose to sign the bill at a controversial center, a methadone clinic disliked by some community members because of its close proximity to schools.

"I think it was a vote of confidence that we're a responsible treatment center in our community's backyard," said Bob Bick.

This isn't the last state money earmarked to battle opiate addiction. The Governor's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (beginning this July) includes about $12 million for the cause. The legislature is considering that proposal and will present its version of that budget in March.

The budget adjustment for FY14 also included $1.6 million for VTrans to deal with winter maintenance, and $250,000 for the Health Department to do pesticide cleanup in Rutland.

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