Municipal contract services up for debate

Commissioners, prosecutors discuss costs, responsibilities

By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today

MIAMI COUNTY — City of Troy Law Director Grant Kerber met with with the Board of Miami County Commissioners on Tuesday morning to discuss rumors regarding the municipal prosecutorial services for unincorporated territories in Miami County.

The Ohio Revised Code section 1901.34 requires the law director of the municipal corporation in which a municipal court is located to prosecute criminal cases brought before the court that occur in the unincorporated areas within the territory of the municipal court, such as the city of Troy’s law director’s office prosecuting criminal cases from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office. A number of exceptions for specific counties are listed in following portions of the Ohio Revised Code section 1901.34, none of which reference Miami County.

Kerber explained he requested a meeting with the commissioners after learning the commissioners were seeking to have Ohio Senator Steve Huffman to change the law, possibly allowing the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office to take over criminal cases for the Sheriff’s Office and the Miami County Animal Shelter.

Kerber said that, since the Miami County Municipal Court was formed in the 1970’s, the city of Troy’s law director has prosecuted criminal cases from the unincorporated areas of Miami County. Kerber said those cases not only included cases from the sheriff’s office and the animal shelter, but also cases from the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), the Miami County Health District, the Miami County Park District, the Ohio Department of Taxation, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Commissioner Greg Simmons said the county is looking to save money on their prosecutorial services.

Kerber said their current annual contract of approximately $132,000 includes three primary prosecutors, 48 hours of coverage each week, around the clock availability, administrative services, and more. Kerber said their contract amount was $120,000 in 2007, and he also said if their 2007 contract had been adjusted for inflation, it would be over $148,000.

“We’re very mindful of the cost of that,” Kerber said.

Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell asked why Kerber had not called him. Kendell confirmed the commissioners and sheriff were talking to Kendell about Kendell possibly taking over prosecution for the sheriff’s office cases.

It then appeared unclear which entity was responsible for paying for prosecutor services for unincorporated territories for charges brought forth in municipal court from agencies other than the sheriff’s office. Kerber brought up of the cases from the OSHP, saying that his office does not have a contract with the OSHP and the commissioners are actually paying for the prosecution of their cases.

“It’s very important to know what you’re proposing because you are proposing just the sheriff and the shelter cases,” Kerber said. “Now, the county still has a responsibility to pay all of the highway patrol cases.”

“No we don’t,” Commissioner Greg Simmons said.

“We don’t have any sort of contract with highway patrol,” Kerber said.

“We don’t pay for their cases,” Simmons said.

“That, I think, is the misunderstanding that we’re having, because if the sheriff cases are approximately 2,000 cases, the highway patrol is like 6,500 cases, and you’re looking triple that to cover the highway patrol,” Kerber said. “The Ohio Revised Code puts the responsibility on the commissioners to take care of all of it, not just the sheriff cases.”

Kerber said a contract with the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office would actually be higher than his current contract with the commissioners.

Kendell said that, of those OSHP case, approximately 4,000 of those were speeding tickets, and he would be able to “come way under.”

“You’re not going to be able to deliver the same sort of services,” Kerber said.“You’re going to be responding to five different judges with four attorneys and two different magistrates. You can buy a $500 car, or we can provide the right service to the citizens.”

“I’m not here to argue with you,” Kendell said. “If I can say I can provide the services, I will provide the services, and for you to sit there and say that I won’t is pretty presumptuous.”

Kerber asked what the contract amount Kendell was suggesting to the sheriff and the commissioners, and Kendell declined to answer. Kerber said that he heard the figure was $50,000, and Kendell said that was not accurate.

Commissioner Jack Evans said he would like clarification on what the commissioners are responsible for funding, saying, “That certainly changes things.”

Later on, Sheriff Dave Duchak noted when it came time to review the county’s contract with the city of Troy, Duchak asked Kendell to review what other counties were doing.

“I have the utmost respect for Grant (Kerber) and his staff. We’ve worked together for years,” Duchak said. “I know a lot of counties contiguous to us, or several I should say, are doing it a different way and a different approach.”

Duchak also noted that he spoke with Kerber last year about operational concerns.

It was also brought up that changing the law would allow the county to “shop around” for prosecutorial services in the way in which incorporated territories, like Tipp City, Troy, and Piqua, are able.

“We’re going to have to keep looking at this,” Commissioner Ted Mercer said.

The commissioners are still seeking to pay the city of Troy on a month-to-month basis for prosecutorial services.

In other news:

The commissioners authorized an agreement with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office to have a deputy positioned at the Miami County Sheriff’s Office full-time. The agreement is to have the deputy at the shelter for eight hours a day, five days a week, “to keep the peace, protect the property, and to perform other necessary police functions and animal control functions.” The animal shelter will pay the sheriff’s office an annual rate of approximately $85,720.78.

The commissioners also approved waste management services for the Department of Job and Family Services with Waste Management of Ohio, Inc., of Fairborn. The monthly cost will be $125.37.

Commissioners, prosecutors discuss costs, responsibilities

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Reach Sam Wildow at ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.

Reach Sam Wildow at ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.