SOUTH BEND, IN - Two 2010 Priuses made in Japan have been at the center of a debate about whether St. Joseph County should purchase vehicles made outside the United States. The decision on whether or not to purchase the vehicles now rests with the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Just last week, an ordinance appropriating money for the vehicles failed to pass the County Council amid strong opposition from United Auto Workers Local 5.

However, County Council member Mark Root said July 22 the board can purchase the vehicles, if it chooses, with money already appropriated in the 2010 budget.

"The intent is to still purchase the vehicles," Commissioner Andy Kostielney said. He added that a purchase plan would be developed in the near future.

If commissioners vote to purchase the Priuses, the county health department, which wants the vehicles, would be required to pay the county back, Kostielney said.

The vehicles are available for just $3,600 each as part of a federal air quality improvement program administered locally by the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG), reported the South Bend Tribune.