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Kalamazoo County Board Set to Talk Money, Jail


KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- The Kalamazoo County Board is set to hold a public hearing on next year’s budget Tuesday evening, and there are still some issues to be resolved.  

They have to slash spending by $3.8 million due to cuts in state revenue sharing and other reductions in their revenue stream.  Much of it will come from across the board cuts to just about every department.  But, commissioners remain sharply divided on proposals to imposed healthcare concessions on employees and particularly retirees.  

Some commissioners have proposed tapping the county’s rainy day fund to offset some of the personnel cuts that are coming to essential services, like the Sheriff’s Department, but there are also differences over that proposal.  

Commissioners were scheduled to take a vote on the $80 million spending plan Tuesday evening.

The board could also authorize the first steps toward construction of an addition to the county jail Tuesday, if they are satisfied with a funding plan to staff the new facility.

The addition would increase the size of the jail from 387 beds to 580 and staffing would be partly paid by the 800-thousand dollars the county now spends annually to rent beds in other jails.

Sheriff Richard Fuller said there is a plan to phase in the new facility, and that means they can phase in the new staff as well.  The bids came in half a million over their budget, but he says they can tweak their plans to fit their funding.   

Agreements with Miller Davis, the architect, and the engineering firm are on this week’s agenda.