|Spending in Monroe County Office Questioned By County Auditor|
|Written by Darin Brown, General Manager|
|Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:27 PM|
Two prominent Monroe County officials recently hired outside legal counsel after a disagreement on spending saw them on opposing sides. During the Nov. 19 Monroe County Commissioners meeting, it was announced that the law firm Isaac, Brandt, Ledman and Teetor, LLP would be hired to represent Auditor Pandora Neuhart and the Board of County Commissioners to look into the spending in Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Walter Starr’s office. Judge Starr has hired his own legal counsel as well.
The disagreement stems from a recent incentive retirement plan offered by Judge Starr to his two employees. The two employees, who have worked in his office for 37 years and 25 years respectively, were given a five-year credit from the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) as part of the incentive. The total cost of this incentive is $269,840.71.
The incentive was allowed via official motion from the Monroe County Commissioners during their meeting on Sept. 17, 2012. However, Prosecuting Attorney James Peters was not present during the discussion which was held in executive session and was not consulted about the request.
Upon finding out about the motion and doing some of her own investigating, Auditor Pandora Neuhart took issue with the incentive. Neuhart’s primary concern was whether or not the funds used to pay for the five years of retirement credit could be used for employee incentives.
Paying for the incentive were seven separate funds. Those funds with amounts deducted were as follows: Indigent Guardianship Fund ($35,000), Probate Computerization Fees ($52,000), Juvenile Computerization Fees ($20,000), Probate Court Special Projects ($65,000), Probate Computer Research ($10,900), Juvenile Computer Research ($52,944.49), and Felony Delinquent Care and Custody Fund ($33,996.22).
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