Berrien County amends transportation funding requests

Published 1:39 pm Thursday, September 23, 2021

ST. JOSEPH – After two meetings dominated by the school mask mandate controversy, Thursday’s Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting returned to the routine matters of county business. The county board will next meet Oct. 7.

Commissioners approved an amendment to the county’s public transportation funding requests to reflect a change in the status of the county programs. The county had taken over running the Berrien Bus and Buchanan Dial-A-Ride programs in the summer of 2020 after the previous operator, TMI, went out of business.

The county had operated the two services on a temporary basis before working out other arrangements with other entities taking over. The county worked out an arrangement where Berrien RESA would take over the administration of the former Berrien Bus operations and the Niles Dial-A-Ride would absorb the Buchanan service.

Both Niles and Buchanan have agreed to the move involving the Buchanan Dial-A-Ride. The Niles Dial-A-Ride’s takeover of the Buchanan operation becomes effective Oct. 1 and will run through 2022 when the current Buchanan Dial-A-Ride millage is up for renewal. Buchanan residents should see no reduction of services and possible expansion.

Thursday, County Commissioner Teri Freehling said the county had initially applied in February for 2022 fiscal year state funding to run the public transportation services. The amendment approved Thursday revises the amounts being applied for to reflect the current situation.

“This is an adjustment and amendment to the resolution we passed in February,” Freehling said. “We didn’t know then what we were going to have. Because of all the changes, we have reduced our operating cost request by $200,000.”

The amended request is asking for $915,000 to cover estimated operating expenses and $190,000 to cover capital expenses including the replacement of up to two vehicles.

Trial court operations was another topic at Thursday’s meeting.

Commissioners approved applying for a $10,000 Risk Avoidance Program grant from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority to replace a courthouse security X-Ray machine. The county will pay the remaining $7.636 of the costs.

Commissioners reported that one X-Ray machine was replaced last year with a similar grant award. This grant will allow the county to replace a second machine. The deadline for the grant application is Oct. 1.

The board’s administration committee heard from Trial Court officials about the changes coming with the raising of the criminal responsibility age from 17 to 18. Treating 17-year-olds as juveniles rather than adults will require more staffing and training at the juvenile center level, they said.

In other action, commissioners approved electrical work at the History Center complex in Berrien Springs, accepted $20,500 in additional funds for the Berrien County Health Department, approved two measures related to the annual monumentation and remonumentation program and approved a traffic order reducing the speed on a Baroda Township road.