Despite Erie County having contracts with Trinity Group Services and Wexford Health Sources, both say, under the current agreement, they are losing money because of “Huge increases in their labor and supply costs.”

“We can’t lose these folks. If we lose them, we can’t feed the inmates.” said Brian Shank, Erie County Council Chairman.

The county will now pay $1.89 per meal, which is a 41 cent increase from the contracted price.

As for the hike that Wexford Health Sources is requesting, the county doesn’t have an exact number.

Chairman Shank said the county has to provide health care to inmates regardless of the increase.

“We really didn’t get into numbers there. That was the one thing they really didn’t talk about,” Shank said.

Other council members say agreeing to the price hike now might pay off in the long run.

“Approving the small increase may help offset a larger one later and that’s the hope, you know, try to hold in costs so taxpayers don’t see it on their end,” said Mary Rennie, Erie County Council Vice Chairwoman.

While the county is agreeing to the increases, there will be a new request for bids when the current contracts end.

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For now, the administration says cutting ties with its current contractors could result in higher costs than what is proposed.

“Who comes in with the best bid for the best quality for our inmates? We will reward them that bid,” Shank said.