By Sean Barron
Mahoning County commissioners have authorized the county prosecutor’s office to file a lawsuit against the city of Campbell to collect money that municipality owes the county.
John A. McNally IV, chairman of the commissioners, noted that Campbell owes the county about $70,000 for 2011 and this year to house inmates in the Mahoning County jail who face municipal charges.
Youngstown, Struthers, Canfield and other municipalities have paid the county such fees, so McNally said he hopes the resolution will provide additional leverage to encourage further discussions to resolve the matter, he explained.
McNally, however, expressed optimism that something likely will be worked out such as a payment plan or having Campbell pay off the amount in full, rendering court action unnecessary.
“I’m sure we’ll be able to work this out, and I hope it’s short of filing a lawsuit,” said McNally, adding that the prosecutor’s office has been in communication with Campbell officials on the debt since last spring.
The county did not charge Campbell to house prisoners before 2011, though under state law it has that discretion.
“We are disputing the claim and hope to work this out with the county,” said Campbell Law Director Brian Macala.
“We got a census a few weeks ago on who they’ve housed and we’re going through it. The number seems far higher than anyone would expect it to be,” he said.
He also said that providing the service to the city has been a benefit as it is coming out of fiscal emergency.
“We’re trying to resolve this. We’ve never gotten a bill and we have never had this situation before,” he said.
County Prosecutor Paul Gains said the county will provide an accounting of the prisoner census again.
“Because I would prefer not to be suing the city of Campbell, but I have an obligation to honor the county’s resolution,” he said.
Gains said that under the law, the sheriff’s office is allowed to charge a per diem housing rate if prisoners are charged under a city ordinance and the city receives the bulk of the fines.
In other business, the Mahoning County Green Team announced a recycling drive that continues through Jan. 31 in which people can deliver in brown bags wrapping paper and greeting cards to various area drop-off sites.
For a list of locations, call the Green Team at 330-740-2060 or go to www.greenteam.cc .