Pleas court asks for less money

The courts are budgeting less money for juror fees this year.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Despite increasing caseloads and complexity of criminal and civil cases, the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court general division has asked for less money to operate this year than in 2004.
County commissioners are telling officeholders or department heads they will have 30 percent less money to spend this year because of expiration of the half-percent sales tax.
The court received $2,216,699 in 2004 and has asked for $2,195,065 this year. One of the big reductions is a decrease in jurors fees this year, said Robert Rupeka, court administrator, and Judge Maureen A. Cronin, common pleas court administrative judge, who appeared at the Thursday hearing.
The budget for jurors' fees last year was $150,000, but the request this year is for $100,000. The courts also have cut back in supplies, printing and subscriptions.
Offsetting those cuts are increases for hospitalization and postage.
Benchmark year
The benchmark year commissioners are using for these hearings is 1999 because that was the last time the county had about $35 million to spend. The courts' budget back then was $1.7 million.
Rupeka brought data showing that civil cases have increased by 8 percent and criminal cases 7.8 percent since 1999. Common pleas court has nearly 4,000 cases pending.
Among the courts' goals this year is to decrease the time from filing to disposition of civil matters. More than 4,500 civil cases were filed last year compared to 1,642 criminal cases.
Under the common pleas court umbrella are the judges, magistrates, court administrator, mediator, bailiffs, court reporters, secretaries, and the assignment and jury offices.

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