Paul McKibben reports:
Warren County plans to spend $6.1 million next year to build a new office building near its crowded Common Pleas Courts Building.
The project is part of the county’s general fund budget that commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday.
Overall, the 2013 general fund budget of $64.5 million is 4.5 percent more than this year’s budget.
“I’m pleased with this budget,” Commissioner Pat South said.
“I think we have been able to … maintain operations adequately.”
As part of the budget:
• Non-union employees will receive a 2 percent raise, and there will be no layoffs.
• The county could begin a 10-year lease on a new radio system.
An annual payment will be $800,000 to $1 million.
• Two new positions – a pre-trial sentence writer and a community corrections officer – are funded.
• Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove will move to full-time, in part because of the county’s increased population.
The courts building has become so cramped that there are cubicles in a hallway.
The county plans to pay cash for the new building, with the county prosecutor and judges also contributing.
Earlier, commissioners conducted a lengthy discussion with judges, law enforcement and other officials about possibly consolidating one of the two Warren County courts into the Lebanon and Franklin municipal courts.
No decision has been made, and officials want to hire a consultant to study the issue.
In Ohio, county and municipal courts conduct preliminary hearings in felony cases and hear traffic and non-traffic misdemeanors.
They also handle civil cases involving money no more than $15,000.
Warren County Court Judge Donald Oda’s seat will become vacant after he takes office as a Warren County Common Pleas Court judge, replacing retiring Neal Bronson.
That will leave Joseph Kirby as the only Warren County Court judge.
Oda was elected last month to his new position.