TRUMBULL COUNTY Legal office to receive funding it requested

The public defender contract might have to change.
WARREN -- Trumbull County commissioners will pay the local public defender's office what it asked for -- $642,096 through June 2006 -- for indigent legal representation.
That amount, however, could still change depending on the state's unfinished budget process and the possibility of budget cuts.
"It's the amount we asked for," said Atty. James F. Lewis, who runs the office and made a presentation to the commissioners last month.
The office has an $885,650 total operation of combined state and local funding. The office handles 6,000 indigent cases a year.
The county's $642,096 funding amount is based on the estimated funding level to be appropriated by the state Legislature, an estimated statewide 27.5 percent reimbursement of county indigent defense systems.
If that reimbursement or state funding level should change during the yearlong contract, the commissioners agree to adjust the county's contract.
"That reimbursement floats," Lewis said, noting at one point it had been as high as 50 percent.
For the coming year, the state has trimmed $30,000 from the reimbursement amount. The amount budgeted by the county covers that loss, Lewis explained.
Lewis' office also includes another state-funded lawyer, Anthony Consoldane, and two paralegals, one executive secretary, two part-time investigators and 16 contracted attorneys. Employees there are set to receive raises established by the state.
Bridge project
In other business today, commissioners were to award an $84,852 contract to Smolen Engineering Ltd., Jefferson, to get started on engineering services for the Newton Falls Covered Bridge rehabilitation project.
The Smolen contract provides for construction administration and inspection, and is subject to 100 percent state reimbursement.
The bridge, the only one of its kind remaining in Trumbull County, is considered the second-oldest covered bridge in the state, and the oldest on its original foundation.
The bridge on Arlington Street off state Route 534 crosses the east branch of the Mahoning River. It was constructed in 1831.
More than $1 million in federal money was granted to the project by the County Engineers Association of Ohio. The Ohio Department of Transportation will assist with administering the money and oversee environmental documentation.
Also today, the commissioners planned to schedule a series of public hearings for water and sewer programs in McKinley Heights. These will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 29 at the fire station, 2229 Gardenland Road.
The county is preparing an application for Community Development Block Grant funding in the amount of $1.4 million, portions of which would be used in McKinley Heights.

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