Wednesday, February 8, 2023

County considering funding ‘Healing Place’ and leasing rehab center to Trillium

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will consider providing funding for a Healing Place that would help people with alcohol and drug addiction (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will consider providing funding for a Healing Place that would help people with alcohol and drug addiction (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

WILMINGTON — The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners has a choice to make at its upcoming board meeting. That choice is whether to fund the construction of a new “Healing Place” that would be operated by Trillium Health Resources.

But what is a so-called healing place?

According to the most recent Board of Commissioners agenda, a healing place facility is a “long-term, peer-run program that would provide rehabilitation and non-medical detox services for individuals with alcohol and other substance use disorders that too often end up in the county jail …”

In 2016, the Board of Commissioners agreed to support Trillium Health Resources’ plans to construct a healing facility due to jail populations. The county originally agreed to commit up to 25 beds at the new facility once it was constructed. But it was never built.

Due to policy changes with state funding to Trillium, funds that could have been used to construct the facility have been redirected and are no longer available – so now Trillium is asking the county to pay for the facility.

“New Hanover County developed a cost model using existing county funding to Trillium and the contracted beds that allows the construction of the facility to proceed,” according to county documents.

According to documents submitted to the Board of Commissioners from CFO Lisa Wurtzbacher, the estimated cost last year of a 100-bed facility was approximately $11,500,000.

To construct the facility and as part of the county model, the county is proposing to issue debt to fund the construction of the facility and pay the debt services on the facility using a portion of the county’s existing annual contribution to Trillium.”

If approved the county would enter into an interlocal agreement that states:

  • County will issue debt to fund the construction of Healing Place based on the construction manager at risk’s guaranteed maximum price if approved by the Board of County Commissioners (“construction manager at risk” refers to a type of agreement with a contractor that ensures greater control of construction costs)
  • Trillium will grant county the property where Healing Place will be located
  • County will lease property back to Trillium when Healing Place is constructed
  • Trillium will establish 501 c(3) to operate and fundraise for Healing Place
  • Debt service and a part of Healing Place operating costs will be covered through existing county annual appropriations and the amount committed to at the Board of Commissioners Jan. 19, 2016 meeting for 25 beds
  • County will not be responsible for operating shortfall

Send comments and tips to Michael Praats at michael.p@localvoicemedia.com.

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