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New Branch County Commission chair Don Vrablic talks about 2013 budget


COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Don Vrablic is Branch County’s new Chairman of the County’s Board of Commissioners. Vrablic, who was selected chair yesterday, believes the county’s budget squeeze last year that led to beginning 2013 with the layoff of most the Sheriff’s Department road patrol deputies was caused by issues that were mostly beyond the control of commissioners, such as unfunded state mandates.  Vrablic also said the public feedback he’s heard has been largely supportive on the Commission’s divided decision last month against using a proposed stop gap measure that would have temporarily postponed the deputy cutbacks.

The suggested band aid approach was to use money from the county’s jail maintenance millage fund.  Vrablic says the Sheriff and the State Police will have to work together on patrol coverage plans and possibly consolidate some patrols and man the shifts together and partner to see what can be done with fewer resources.

The County Board of Commissioners is now a five member board, downsized from eight commissioners.  Jon Houtz was picked as vice-chairman of this year’s Board. The reduced size of the commission means the end of a handful of individual committee meetings to be replaced by what’s called committee of the whole sessions, when all five commissioners will discuss various issues on the first and third Thursdays of the month. The regular full Board of Commissioner meetings will continue to be held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. There will be some exceptions, such as the opening committee of the whole gathering, which is set for tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.