MAHONING COUNTY Commissioners vote to add $925,000 to appropriation for juvenile court
Commissioners set aside an additional $925,000 for the juvenile court.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners' decision to provide nearly $1 million in additional funding for the county juvenile court should get them off the hook for a contempt of court violation.
"I'll sit down with Judge [Theresa] Dellick on Monday, and we'll make sure it's going to be enough to get her through the year," said Atty. John B. Juhasz. "If it is, we will probably dismiss the contempt complaint."
Commissioners voted 2-1 Friday to appropriate $925,000 to the juvenile court. That's in addition to the $4.6 million they budgeted to the court at the beginning of the year. Commissioner Vicki Allen Sherlock voted against the allocation, while commissioners Ed Reese and David Ludt voted for it.
Judge Dellick had originally requested $6.9 million for the year, and sued commissioners in the Ohio Supreme Court when they reduced her appropriation. The high court ruled in her favor last month.
When commissioners did not pay up within two weeks, Juhasz filed a motion asking that they be held in contempt of court. That motion is still pending, but Juhasz said it will be withdrawn if Judge Dellick approves Friday's budget addition.
In the meantime, Ludt and Auditor George Tablack have been negotiating with the judge to work out a compromise that will meet her needs through the end of the year while not bankrupting the general fund. Tablack said Thursday that they'd reached an agreement for the $925,000 increase. He noted that with this new appropriation, the juvenile court's expenditures for this year will end up being only $260,000 more than 2002.
Judge Dellick was not available to comment Friday, and Juhasz said he plans to meet with her Monday to make sure the money is enough to get the court through the end of the year.
The county budget commission met earlier Friday and certified that an additional $375,000 in revenue should be available through increased receipts by the end of the year.
That, coupled with about $775,000 general fund balance, will be enough to cover the additional funding for the juvenile court, commissioners said.
Reese said the lower amount was a victory for the county because it did not have to pay the full $2.3 million difference between what the judge had requested and what she'd been budgeted for the year.
Sherlock said she voted against the settlement because she'd wanted to first discuss the matter publicly with Judge Dellick, which never happened.
"I know it seems outrageously unpopular that a judge can get her funding this way, but constitutionally and legally that is the way it is to be done," Juhasz said.