MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell presented the cost proposal for his office to take over municipal prosecutor services for unincorporated territories in Miami County during Tuesday’s regular Board of Miami County Commissioners meeting.
Kendell proposed his office could provide municipal prosecutor services at an annual rate of approximately $84,853. This proposal included an assistant prosecutor at a salary of $45,000 plus benefits and a part-time secretary at a pay rate of $15 an hour for 25 hours a week.
The county’s current annual contract with the city of Troy’s Law Director Grant Kerber’s office is approximately $132,000. Kerber previously explained on Aug. 6 this contract included three primary prosecutors, 48 hours of coverage each week, administrative services, etc.
Currently, Ohio Revised Code 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.
Kendell said that Ohio Senator Steve Huffman “feels like he has a conflict” regarding changing the law to create an exception for Miami County, so Kendell said they are now working with the president of the Ohio Senate, Larry Obhof, to potentially change the law to add an exception for Miami County. Huffman’s brother is Miami County Municipal Court Judge Sam Huffman.
When it was last discussed on Aug. 6, it was 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 Miami County Sheriff’s Office and the Miami County Animal Shelter. The commissioners received clarification from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office prior to Tuesday’s meeting that they are responsible for cases not only from the sheriff’s office and the animal shelter, but also cases from other entities like the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) that arise in unincorporated territories in Miami County.
Kendell addressed the OSHP, saying the majority of the cases — approximately 4,000 — are speeding tickets and another approximate 1,000 cases are seat belt violations. Kendell said that left approximately 1,100 OSHP cases.
Kendell said the addition of municipal prosecutor services for his office does not increase his salary at all and that he was seeking to offer these services because of a commitment to fiscal responsibility.
“I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Kendell said. He added earlier that he is currently operating his office with one less attorney than the previous prosecutor before him did.
When the commissioners asked for Sheriff Dave Duchak’s opinion, he said, “To me, it just comes down to fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers,” noting going with Kendell’s could potentially save taxpayers $47,000 annually.
Commissioner Ted Mercer said he would like to hear from Kerber’s office in response to this proposal. Kerber was not able to be present during Tuesday’s meeting. Commissioner Greg Simmons said they were not going to make a decision that day about the municipal prosecutor services.
Board of Elections to hold mock election
Also during the commissioners’ meeting, Kenneth Henning, southwest Ohio regional liaison with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, invited the public to participate in the Miami County Board of Election’s upcoming mock election on Thursday, Aug. 29. Voting for the mock election will be open to the public between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day at the Board of Elections office on the first floor of the Miami County Courthouse, located at 215 W. Main Street in Troy.
Henning said they were hoping to get as many county residents as possible to stop in and vote sometime between those hours. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will be at the Board of Elections after the voting for the mock election takes place between 1-2 p.m. while the votes for the mock election are being tabulated.
“The director and deputy director and staff at the Board of Elections have done a really good job of getting everything ready for this,” Henning said. “There is a lot of testing that goes on with the new machines they’ve been getting in July.”
Henning went on to say, “They’re working hard to restore 100 percent confidence in Miami County voters, so it’s just important that we get Miami County residents over to the board next week during this mock election so they can see the new machines and be comfortable with what they will be using.”
Henning also briefly commented on election security.
“They’re getting ready for probably the most important election of this century so far, and 2020 is going to be a big year,” Henning said. “The security component is extremely important, and Secretary LaRose wanted to really make sure that all systems were in place to protect foreign entities from trying to have any type of interference with the elections.”
Also during the commissioners’ meeting, they approved the purchase of 25 custom security carts from ElectionSource of Grand Rapids, Mich. at a cost not to exceed $33,012.50 for the Board of Elections office. These carts with casters will permanently store voting equipment for each polling location, including tabulators, ADA-compliant touchscreen devices, signs, etc. ElectionSource offered the second-lowest quote. The commissioners went with ElectionSource due to the casters on their carts being larger and having a larger weight capacity.
An earlier edition of this article stated Henning said the Miami County Board of Elections is 100 percent compliant with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office’s security directive. A representative from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office said the Miami County Board of Elections is on its way to being completely compliant with the security directive and that local boards have until January 2020 to become compliant. The representative could not disclose what is remaining for the Miami County Board of Elections to do in order to become compliant.
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