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The Barry County Jail, built in 1970, is outdated and with “significant security and safety issues,” according to a 2015 report. Barry County Commissioners agree a new jail is needed and are again considering the possibility.  In January, commissioners unanimously voted to direct County Administrator Michael Brown to pursue an RFP for completion of a financial analyses and architectural renderings for a replacement jail, as described in the Barry County Master Facilities Plan from Tower Pinkster.


Commissioners said then they wanted everything on the table and several commissioners called for being through and careful when considering funding options.

Al Graves, from Delton, gave the commissioners his advice on how to fund a new jail at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting. Saying he was advocating for seniors and the working poor, Graves read his suggestions:

  1. Exempt seniors 65 and older who are on fixed income and have paid taxes most of their lives.
  2. Exempt working poor (income level to be determined).
  3. Stop or reduce millage on the following:

-Charlton Park

-Commission on Aging

-County Transit

-Thornapple Manor.

“The easy solution is to raise everyone’s taxes,” he said. “The hard, but fair, solution is a line item evaluation of local taxes, seek donations from residents and businesses and state aid.

“It’s time to stop kicking that can down the road…You know how to get this done,” he said.

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