Petro to be in town to discuss audit

YOUNGSTOWN -- State Auditor Jim Petro was to be in the city this afternoon to meet with Mahoning County officials about the final recommendations of a year-long performance audit issued today.
County commissioners requested the audit, which cost $250,000, in December 2000.
The county's operation was compared to Trumbull, Lorain and Stark counties. The audit examined the sheriff's office, juvenile court, area court system, board of elections and personnel and benefits programs, and reviewed wages and salary ranges, job classifications and descriptions, staffing levels and turnover, training, personnel policies and benefit programs in all departments.
The recommendations affirm those in a final draft report issued about two weeks ago, including standardized employee compensation packages and methods for establishing base salaries for similar jobs in different departments, something County Auditor George Tablack said he's wanted to see for years.
Insurance: The report notes that the county has been "historically inefficient" in its management of workers' compensation claims, but commended commissioners for taking steps to improve. It also recommends that commissioners implement an across-the-board employee copayment for health insurance for a savings of nearly $104,000. A $6 monthly copayment has been negotiated into some union contracts, but not others.
By increasing the employee contribution from $6 to 10 percent of the premium, the savings would jump to about $707,800.
Juvenile court: The audit also recommends several improvements in operation of the juvenile court. The report notes that the problems existed before Judge Theresa Dellick took office in April 2001 and that she's taken steps since then to improve efficiency.
Among other things, recommendations include that the court needs to better manage the daily inmate population at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center, improve the accuracy of case information reported to the Ohio Supreme Court and keep better track of recidivism and success rates among juveniles placed on probation.
The report also says the county could save about $256,800 by consolidating its area courts.

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