STANTON — A longtime leasing problem was finally resolved Tuesday between the Montcalm Center for Behavioral Health and the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners unanimously voted to create a no-cost, 10-year lease for the Center for Behavioral Health to use a county building, which will remain under county ownership. The Center for Behavioral Health will maintain building upkeep costs and will reimburse the county for property insurance.
“This agreement resolves a problem that has existed between Montcalm County and Behavioral Health for six years now,” said Commissioner John Johansen of Montcalm Township. “Personally, I believe it’s the best resolution that we can define for both the county and Behavioral Health on this longstanding issue.”
The Center for Behavioral Health had a 10-year lease with Montcalm County for use of a county building, but has not made lease payments to Montcalm County since October 2006, despite owing the county about $130,000 annually. This problem was created when the Department of Community Health stopped allowing state and federal funds to be used to make lease payments. The 10-year lease expired Sept. 30.
Commissioners and Behavioral Health officials have been discussing possible solutions to the problem for some time, while the county continued to allow Behavioral Health to use the building.
An agreement was reached Tuesday after Center for Behavioral Health Executive Director Robert “Bob” Brown sent the Board of Commissioners a letter with a proposed solution.
“As you know, the Montcalm Center for Behavioral Health has had difficulty with its funding sources relative to making lease payments to the county over the past six years,” Brown stated. “Our board has been working toward resolution of this problem.”
The Behavioral Health Board recently issued the fiscal year 2012 lease payment of $130,000 to Montcalm County in order to trigger a series of steps that will hopefully resolve the funding source issue with the Department of Community Health, according to Brown. The Behavioral Health Board also approved paying a balance of $650,000 to Montcalm County for past lease payments.
According to Brown, the Behavioral Health Board wanted the Board of Commissioners to transfer ownership of the building from the county to the Behavioral Health Board. However, at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners agreed to lease the building to Behavioral Health at no cost while retaining ownership for the next decade.
The Montcalm Center for Behavioral Health in Stanton is a community mental health authority serving Montcalm County. It provides services and support for people with serious and persistent mental illness, developmental disabilities and children with severe emotional disturbances. It also provides emergency services to anyone in the community 24/7.
For more information about the Montcalm Center for Behavioral Health, visit montcalmcenter.org online.