Marathon Co. spending millions to fight drug epidemic - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marathon Co. spending millions to fight drug epidemic

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MARATHON CO. (WAOW) -

As the drug epidemic grows so does the burden on taxpayers in Marathon County.

"The 2018 budget is dominated by issues and costs associated with the drug epidemic here in Marathon County," said County Administrator Brad Karger. "It's really gotten a lot worse in the last five years."

Karger has declared an emergency for the budget for the next five years because they need roughly $2 million from the reserve funds to fight the epidemic.

"The drug epidemic in Marathon County has spurred a social crisis but now it has translated itself into a financial crisis for county government in responding to that," said Karger. "We are going to spend down our reserves because the alternative is to reduce those programs like start rite and other prevention, early intervention programs that will actually make the problem worse."

The money will be spent on housing inmates in other counties because of overcrowding along with other programs aimed at fighting the drug crisis.

"There's a half million dollar increase in the cost of out of home care for children, most of that increase is driven by parents who are abusing illegal drugs," said Karger.

The county will also be adding a new drug court and a drug officer.

"We're talking about a new drug officer that will focus on helping people with drug issues and homelessness," said Karger. "Mostly again mental illness triggered by the drug epidemic."

Karger said he believes that together the community can fight and overcome the drug problem.

"The solution is going to be the community working together, the government doesn't solve problems alone, families, churches, social service agencies, regular people are going to have to contribute to this," said Karger.

There is roughly $20 million in the reserve fund. Karger said taking money from that is just a temporary fix and funding will need to come from somewhere else in the years to come.

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