Sheriff’s Office to scale back on loan repayment

REED CITY — Osceola County Undersheriff Justin Halladay has looked at the numbers for next year’s budget and it’s not adding up.

Since 2015, the department has been paying $50,000 each year to the county’s delinquent tax fund to pay for a loan used for the addition to the sheriff’s office. However, next year, the sheriff’s office won’t be able to make that full payment.

Halladay spoke with Osceola County commissioners during their Committee of the Whole meeting on Sept. 5, indicating the shortage of funds is a result from the State of Michigan ending a program to board prisoners at the county’s jail.

“We simply don’t have the income in (the fund) we once did with the state prisoners taken back,” he said. “In the process of doing budgets for next year, it’s not possible simply because the income is not there.”

Halladay provided commissioners with an alternative, suggesting the agreement be changed to allow the sheriff’s office to allocate $20,000 for its payment to the delinquent tax fund.

County Coordinator Sue Vander Pol supported Halladay’s suggestion, as the revenue will not be available for the $50,000 payment.

“When the decision was made by the board and we looked at financing and tried to project out, no one predicted the State of Michigan was going to pull the plug on those inmates, because that’s been in place for over 20 years,” she said.

Vander Pol said the sheriff’s office continues to look to board more prisoners from other places and there has been talk about bringing that program back, but it has only been discussed.

“(Halladay has) talked with (Treasurer) Lori Leudeman,” she said. “There still is some reimbursement coming in, and the tax fund is funded fine.”

Halladay budgeted for a $20,000 payment in 2018 and said he hopes it can be more.

“I would like to do $25,000, as that would be half of what the payments are laid out as,” he said. “Instead of the four or five years planned to pay it back, it would just be eight. Things could change, as 2018 is an election year, though. If they do change and we get more, I have no other plans for that money and it can go right into that payment.”

County commissioners approved the change in payment to $20,000 per year with 1 percent interest until the loan is paid off.

In other action from the Committee of the Whole meeting, commissioners approved:

• A five-year subscription with I.T. Moss to provide wireless guest access service at the courthouse and annex buildings. Technology Director J.T. Burgess told commissioners the guest Wi-Fi is expected to be running by the end of September;

• Purchasing a third computer for the sheriff’s office from funds budgeted for two computers;

• Accepting grant funds from Michigan Works! Incumbent Working Training Agreement to help pay tuition for three Osceola County EMS employees to enroll in a paramedic course;

• A one-year extension with Professional Office Cleaning of Big Rapids for janitorial services; and

• A resolution opposing Senate Bill 386, which notes, if passed as it is written, would undermine the process for collecting delinquent real property taxes.

Items approved at the Committee of the Whole meeting were later approved by officials at the board of commissioners meeting.

The next Committee of the Whole meeting will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19.