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Should Branch County Pay For Prisoners

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COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) Branch County government makes a yearly payment to help fund the Branch-Hillsdale St. Joseph Community Health Agency. It’s based on a per-capita dollar figure tied to the Census and the County’s population. That includes the inmates at the State Prison Complex in Coldwater. But should it? 

It’s been somewhat of a contentious issue at recent meetings of the Tri-County Health Board, which includes two members who are County Commissioners, those being Dale Swift and Rod Olney. Yesterday,CountyCommissionersdecided its next per capita appropriation to the Health Agency will not include money for the prisoners as part of the County’s population. That would save the county around 7-thousand dollars. Commissioner Olney says it’s a double edged sword since including the inmates can sometimes be an advantage when it comes to other revenue streams involving the county. 

But Commissioner Swift believes it’s past time the County take a stand on the question arguing it should no longer take the brunt on paying for what he termed the health department’s unfunded mandate that they’re trying to now, in his words, push off on Branch County alone.  

The discussion was included as the Board held a public hearing on the 2012 budget. Final approval of next year’s spending plan is on the docket for the Commission’s last meeting of the year next Wednesday. 

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