Bibb OKs cash for drug treatment facility in west Macon

Bibb County moved a step closer to getting a long-term drug treatment facility Tuesday when commissioners approved up to $250,000 to refurbish a home in west Macon.

Shannon Harvey, chief executive officer of River Edge Behavioral Health Center, told county commissioners a contract for such a facility with the state Division of Mental Health, Addictive Diseases and Developmental Disabilities hinges on whether the selected First Avenue house can be refurbished. River Edge already owns the property.

The contract would provide River Edge $400,000 — expected annually from the state — to fund a 14-bed recovery residence for men with addictions, Harvey has said. River Edge will receive the money contingent on it getting the contract.

In February, commissioners expressed their support for exploring the state contract for a long-term drug treatment facility, as well as another contract for a psychiatric crisis stabilization service for children and adolescents.

The contract for a 20- to-28 bed psychiatric crisis stabilization service is expected to be signed Friday, Harvey told commissioners. Because of that timing, funding for the long-term drug treatment facility can not wait until the next budget cycle, she said.

Commissioner Lonzy Edwards, a longtime proponent of a drug treatment facility, said he hopes the move could lead to additional services.

“If we can get our feet in the door, even on this small, miniscule basis, I think this is a step we can’t pass up,” he said.

Steve Layson, Bibb’s chief administrative officer, questioned whether now is the right time to approve more spending, especially since the general fund has dipped below last year’s level.

“It just kind of concerns me, this kind of supplemental in this amount at this time of the year,” Layson said. “River Edge is financially strong. They should be challenged to come up with this.”

This is the second supplemental appropriation the commission has given River Edge this year.

In October, commissioners approved $172,000 in extra funding for an outpatient program at River Edge that threatened closure after a loss of funding from the state.

About 600 people would have been affected.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.