Municipal prosecutor services debate continues


By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today



MIAMI COUNTY — The city of Troy’s Law Director Grant Kerber presented a rebuttal to Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell’s cost proposal for the prosecutor services for Miami County Municipal Court during the Board of Miami County Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday.

On Aug. 20, 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.

“It represents a proposed cut in services,” Kerber said on Tuesday.

The county’s current annual contract with Kerber’s office is approximately $132,000. Kerber said this contract includes four prosecutors, 48 hours of coverage each week, administrative services, etc. Kerber previously said his office’s contract amount with the county was $120,000 in 2007, and Kerber reiterated during Tuesday’s meeting that if their 2007 contract had been adjusted for inflation, it would be over $148,000. Kerber also said his staff spends more than the 48 hours of coverage in Municipal Court preparing briefs, subpoenas, and more outside of the court time.

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 currently reference Miami County. There have been discussions regarding working with state legislators to add an exception for Miami County.

Kerber said Kendell’s proposal of a part-time secretary would create a drain on resources, as well as diminish the municipal prosecutor’s office’s Monday through Friday availability to the public.

Kerber also said the proposed salary of $45,000 for a full-time assistant prosecutor for Municipal Court was more of a salary for part-time position.

“You’re cutting services,” Kerber said. “A part-time prosecutor is not going to cut it.”

Kerber also suggested this proposal may take resources from the county prosecutor’s office, which currently includes four prosecutors in Miami County Common Pleas Court and one civil attorney.

“I appreciate the thought that this would be a cost-savings, I don’t see that,” Kerber said.

Other factors Kerber noted were overhead costs, coverage for the assistant municipal prosecutor during sick or vacation leave, and scheduling conflicts between the judges in Municipal Court and Common Pleas Court.

Kerber also said the city of Troy shares some costs with the county, approximately $94,000 on top of the county’s contract of approximately $132,000.

Commissioner Ted Mercer shared concerns about how Kendell was elected by residents of unincorporated territories of Miami County to represent them as their county prosecutor and Kerber was not.

“They don’t vote for you,” Mercer said.

Kerber responded by saying he has not heard “any concerns about the level of service and the quality of service” of his office. Kerber also briefly mentioned his involvement in the county.

“It’s all prosecuted in the same way,” Kerber said. “From my standpoint, it’s not an issue.”

Commissioner Greg Simmons suggested there may be more continuity between Muncipal Court and Common Pleas Court with cases that get bound over from Municipal Court. Kerber said there was already a collaborative approach in place.

“I’ve never heard anything otherwise that it’s working well,” Kerber said.

Mercer also pointed out there has been interest from the city of Troy to continue receiving this contract from the county.

“I noticed the city of Troy’s been at all of our meetings. This contract’s important to them, I guess, on the finance side,” Mercer said. “I’m trying to figure out what their advantage is other than the dollar amount that the county pays into.”

He said Troy’s mayor, mayor-elect, police chief, and a city administrator attend their meetings.

“It seems like it’s pretty imporant to the city of Troy that we continue on this partnership,” Mercer said.

Kerber said he did not want to “speak out of turn” about the city’s interest in this partnership.

“I don’t want to speak for other people as well,” Kerber said. “I can tell you certainly from the dollar and cents, if the court’s still going to expect the city of Troy to have full-time availability Monday through Friday and the same secretary and the prosecutor, it’s going to affect their bottom line.”

Kerber said he has been “very conscious” about keeping spending down.

“We don’t have a lot of things in here that doesn’t need to be done,” Kerber said.

“I want to make sure that our residents of the county are getting the right amount of money for the service we’re getting, and I appreciate you taking the time to put all of this together, and we will have discussions about that,” Commissioners Jack Evans said.

In other news:

The commissioners acknowledged the receipt of the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program and Impaired Driving Enforcement Program grant awards, totaling approximately $66,180, on behalf of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office. Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said this was the 15th year the department has received this funding, which will go toward overtime, fuel costs, and benefits for extra enforcement.

The commissioners then authorized the purchase of building security workstations and partitions for the Safety Building and the Miami County Courthouse. The purchase from Office 360 of Indianapolis, Ind. is not to exceed approximately $4,716. The cost also includes the installation of the desks and panels.

Following that, the commissioners authorized to waive the zoning and building permit fees and reimbursement fees already paid for the repair, reconstruction, or other work associated with storm damage from the May tornadoes. Director Richard Osgood of the Miami County Department of Development said this would apply to approximately 23 permits currently and the county would reimburse approximately $2,300. Commissioners’ Administrator Leigh Williams noted this is not allieviating the permit process, just the fees for those affected by the May tornadoes.

Next on the agenda, the commissioners authorized preventative maintenance and roof repairs at the Incarceration Facility. Maxim Roofing Company of Dayton will perform preventative maintenance to the metal roof section and add a “fluted area at the roof hatch of pod A” in order “to direct water runoff away from the area more effectively and seal any internal leaks” that may have penetrated the sublayer of the roof lining, according to the staff report. The cost is not to exceed $22,970. Director Chris Johnson of the Operations and Facilities Department said the project area is 50,000 square feet and they may have to add additional fluted areas to the other pods in the future.

The commissioners then authorized the painting of the Safety Building’s HVAC cooling tower enclosure. Bissett and Company Painting, Inc. of Dayton will “ire brush and power wash the enclosure of the HVAC cooling tower at the Safety Building, along with remove rust and flaking paint and then paint the structure,” according to the staff report. The cost is not to exceed $4,750.

Later on, the commissioners tabled a carpet replacement project for the West Central Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility. The quote was from M.L. Dunn of Vandalia to replace carpet in the facility’s cafeteria. No one from the facility was present during the commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday to answer questions from the commissioners about the project, including why they were installing more carpet instead of tile in the cafeteria and why there were no quotes from local businesses for the project.

The commissioners then approved an annexation petition of 1.355 acres from Monroe Township to Tipp City, located at the address 3285 S. County Road 25-A. Matt Spring of the city of Tipp City explained a developer is planning to build a Dollar General at this location, which is north of the Shell gas station, and the developer needs access to city utilities.

The commissioners also authorized the issuance of $325,000 Caldwell Ditch project bond anticipation notes for the purpose of paying a portion ofof the cost of improving the Caldwell Ditch project.

The commissioners also met with Matt Watkins of the IT Department and Advocate Group about the county’s telephone system project.

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com