Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who Pays?

There's nothing like a budget crunch to push good ideas forward. Sometimes, unfortunately, these ideas should have been acted upon long ago.

Yesterday, I received from the public defender's office a 2006 opinion from the Prosecutor's Office that makes very clear that the county should not be spending county/state dollars paying for the defense of indigent suspects for violations of municipal ordinances (as opposed to state statutes). Those costs should be borne by the municipality, either directly (if they have their own public defenders), or through a contract between that municipality and the County public defender's office. Here's the opinion: http://davidpepper.com/archives/Deters%20Letter.pdf

It appears that this clear advice has not been followed up until now. (I have no idea why not).

I have asked the County Administration to immediately remedy the situation, and work out a contract with the City of Cincinnati, and any other municipality where this has been occurring.

This could save us hundreds of thousands per year in such costs.

It's also important for another reason. Just as when we restarted billing jurisdictions for jail stays due to the violation of municipal ordinances, this approach puts the full cost-benefit calculation of new laws directly on the municipality that passes them, as opposed to asking taxpayers from other jurisdictions to pay those costs.


Anonymous said...

This is incredible. Whoever forwarded it to you deserves a raise - well, I guess they get that employee reward thing anyway.

It also draws into question where Deters has had his head buried in the sand since '06 that he didn't copy this to the commissioners during this whole crisis - or at least to DeWine.

Maybe Deters should conduct a review of all opinions issued since coming back to town and see if there are any other treasurers buried in his office

Jeff Capell said...

Who in the County Finance/Budget office is supposed to be tracking this stuff? For years they didn't notice that the Sheriff's office wasn't charging the local governments for prisoners in jail for municipal ordinances. Now for an extended time they've managed to not notice that municipalities weren't being charged for PD work. Someone isn't watching the store.

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