Forest Park Village Hall and municipal buildings are seen on Monday, March 8, 2021 | Alex Rogals, Staff Photographer

Like hundreds of municipalities across the country, Forest Park’s village council has voted to opt into a major legal settlement that will send an influx of cash to town to help combat the devastating impacts of the opioid epidemic.

The council gave its unanimous approval to the settlement at its regular meeting last month, following the recommendation of a Chicago law firm, Edelson PC. The decision means Forest Park will receive a portion of a nearly $26 billion settlement reached between multiple state and local municipalities and a handful of pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and three distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.

The state of Illinois is expected to receive $800 million but has not decided how that money will be distributed. Forest Park Village Administrator Moses Amidei said he anticipated those funds would be allocated sometime this year.

The majority of the money the village receives must be used for “opioid abatement,” according to an Edelson PC memo distributed to the council. Illinois is expected to devise its own state-specific allocation model but no details on what formula the state will use to distribute the money has been revealed.

Amidei said that now that the village has opted in, he and his staff will create recommendations for how the money could be spent. It’s unclear whether that could include additional funding for law enforcement, money for life-saving overdose reversal drugs like naloxone or other harm-reduction tools.

According to Reuters, the settlement calls for the three distributors to pay out $21 billion over the course of the next 18 years with Johnson & Johnson contributing an additional $5 billion.

If the village had opted out of the agreement, it would have needed to provide significant financial evidence of the impact of opioid addiction in the community to justify a specific amount and could have been cut out of the agreement entirely, Edelson warned, based on specific opioid settlement-related legislation passed in the state last year