Commissioner votes against insurance increases

By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Commissioner Greg Simmons voted against increased insurance premiums for county employees during the Board of Miami County Commissioners meeting on Thursday, saying

The 2020 Health Insurance rates were approved by a vote of two to one on Thursday, with commissioners Jack Evans and Ted Mercer approving the rates and Simmons voting against them.

“Like anybody else, nobody likes rate increases,” Evans said. He added that, last week, the county received an increase of $300,000 in claims that need to be paid. “I don’t like paying more for insurance either, but I don’t see where we have any choice.”

“Being in the private sector for a number of years, I understand health costs are a huge part of everyone’s lives,” Mercer said. Mercer noted that the county’s most utilized plan will be undergoing a “small increase,” but he said, “The county is still paying 90 percent of the premium.”

Simmons explained his position on the insurance rates — which are expected to increase approximately 18.9 percent on average — saying he felt like the county’s greatest asset is its employees.

“I feel like we’re losing our employees,” Simmons said. He added that he would not have accepted any increases even if they were a few cents. “The county employees don’t deserve a raise on their insurance.”

Mercer said the county would be looking at the salaries of their employeess to make sure they are competitive. Evans said that not accepting the new rates was “not fiscally responsible.”

Commissioners seek legislation change on municipal prosecutor services

Also during their meeting on Thursday, the commissioners signed a letter to Ohio State Representative Jena Powell requesting a change in state legislation that would allow Miami County to utilize its county prosecutor for municipal prosecutorial services.

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.

The letter to Powell notes that 22 counties “have enacted legislation to abrogate the current section and enabling these counties to use their county prosecutor, allowing for better service at a more economical cost.” The commissioners are seeking to add Miami County to this list in order to save costs.

On Aug. 20, Miami County Prosecutor Tony 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 city of Troy’s Law Director Grant Kerber is approximately $132,000. Kerber said this contract includes four prosecutors, 48 hours of coverage each week, administrative services, etc.

Common Pleas Court faces probation services change

Due a change in the state law, Miami County Common Pleas Court will be setting up its own local probation department instead of relying on the state’s Adult Parole Authority (APA).

“Our court has been undergoing some major changes,” Miami County Common Pleas Court Jeannine Pratt said on Thursday.

The state’s APA will be moving toward focusing on monitoring convicted felons on post release control following their release from prison, leaving the 19 jurisdictions, including the Miami County Common Pleas Court, that relied on APA to provide probation monitoring services to transition to providing those services at the local level.

Miami County Common Pleas Court is currently the only court in Miami County that does not have its own probation department as Municipal Court and Juvenile Court provide those services locally. Miami County Common Pleas Court currently has an agreement with the APA to provide office space, certain supplies, and two full-time secretaries while APA staffed the office with a supervisor, senior parole officer, and three parole officers. Those officers currently monitor approximately 380 people on felony probation, including community control, which is when a defendent receives probation instead of a prison sentence.

Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Stacy Wall explained the change in the law followed the 2017 murder of Reagan Tokes, an Ohio State University student who was abducted, raped, and murdered by Brian Golsby, who had recently been released from prison after a six-year prison term for kidnapping and raping a pregnant woman. Golsby had a GPS monitoring device on his ankle at the time of Tokes’ murder.

Wall explained this case resulted in a change in the state’s sentencing law regarding high degree felonies by imposing minimum and maximum sentences to reward good behavior. Along with this, the APA will move to focus solely on monitoring and rehabilitating felons on post release control, which is a form of probation following a prison sentence.

Miami County Common Pleas Court will have until July 2020 to setup its own local probation department and until June 2021 to have all of its community control cases transferred from the APA to that new department.

Pratt and Wall presented the commissioners with an expected budget, explaining that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) will be providing approximately $225,000 in funding for the department to cover the salaries of a chief probation officer and two probation officers. Pratt and Wall also asked the commissioners for $100,000 in additional funds, which would cover an additional probation officer, benefits for the new employees, and additional expenses.

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.