MORRIS – The Grundy County Finance Committee voted unanimously at its Monday night meeting to continue funding the county’s mental health court public defender and administrator costs through the end of the state’s fiscal year, June 30.
Judge Lance Peterson attended the meeting and asked the county to continue to fund the about $3,000 a month in salary for the two positions until the budget impasse in Springfield is rectified and the county can get reimbursement from the Adult Redeploy grant it received.
“The reason I’m at the meeting is to ask the Finance Committee to continue to fund the two contractors for mental health court,” Peterson said before the meeting. “When the state gets the budget addressed, we fully expect to be reimbursed.”
The finance committee agreed in October to cover the payroll for the two part-time positions for six months. That date would have taken them to April, but Peterson said due to a newspaper article published about the funding, he wanted to address it sooner rather than later.
County Finance Chairman Chris Balkema said he was supportive of mental health court and believed funding the program until the grant is released by the state makes the most sense.
State’s Attorney Jason Helland said Monday the program has been very successful and has 10 people active in the court. Peterson agreed and said the court not only makes sense and gives offenders a just sentence, but it also saves the taxpayers money.
“It costs $39,000 to house a person in Department of Corrections, it costs about $10,000 to keep them out and in treatment with mental health court,” Peterson said. “It’s a win-win.”
Committee member John Roth said while he agrees the program is a win for the community, he is hesitant about funding it for six to eight months and wants awareness of the lack of state funding raised more often, so a motion was made and passed to fund the court through June 30.
The Finance Committee will revisit the topic at that time.