Cass County Board of Commissioners approves substance abuse funding, new records system

Published 10:26 am Friday, November 20, 2020

CASSOPOLIS — The Cass County Board of Commissioners were back to business approving new items of business Thursday.

The board met via Zoom video conferencing, as members have done since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the meeting, the board voted to enter into two contracts — one to benefit community mental health and another to benefit the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.

First was a resolution to enter into a three-year contract with Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health regarding substance abuse funding. The agreement begins Jan. 1, 2021, and ends Dec. 31, 2023.

According to the resolution, the vote comes as a result of restructuring done by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Under 2012 PA 500 and 2012 PA 501, the coordination of the provision of substance use disorder services was transferred from prior existing coordinating agencies to community mental health entities designated by MDHHS to represent a region of community mental health authorities, community mental health organizations, community mental health services programs or county community mental health agencies.

SWMBH represents eight community mental health authorities in the region in which Cass County is located and is an MDHHS-designated community mental health entity to coordinate substance use disorder services in the area. As such, SWMBH must establish a substance use disorder oversight policy board via a contractual agreement between itself and each of the counties in the region.

The purpose of the contract approved Thursday is to set forth the terms and conditions for establishing an oversight policy board according to the law.

Next on the agenda Thursday was a resolution to approve a new vendor of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office records management system and jail management system. The commissioners voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with Solid Circle, located out of Holland, Michigan. The initial cost of the contract will be $102,500, with a five-year cost of $223,156.

According to Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke, its current records and jail management systems have not been supported since 2016, and his office has been searching for a replacement vendor since 2017.

Behnke said Solid Circle was chosen due to cost and other advantages, such as having a single database for patrol records and correction records to share.

“All other systems had multiple databases,” he wrote in a letter to the board of commissioners. “This was not attractive to our team. The interface was determined a better fit for the users.”

Solid Circle currently services five other sheriff’s departments in the state of Michigan. According to Behnke, all have reported success in communication, reliable support, and ease in adjusting to meet each department’s needs.

“The team decided the best option is Solid Circle. We believe it will meet the needs for future growth and flexibility,” he said.