GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Commission met early this week to review department budgets and review the Defense of Indigent Services proposals.
The county received one proposal for the Defense of Indigent Services for $395,250 according to Melissa Clark, administrator. She said last year’s budget was $364,980.
Indigent Services provide court appointed lawyers when a judge determines someone is unable to afford their own counsel.
“Certain counties have to divide attorneys for people that are indigent,” said Karen Sprague, grants administrator. “The court will do a form and determine if they’re indigent or not. And then the court will do court appointed counsel for them if they’re determined indigent.”
Sprague and Clark said the county receives proposals each year for the services that put a cap on costs. Sprague said the state reimburses the county for these expenses at varying amounts.
“Right now the reimbursement is 80% but it’s been down as low as 40%,” Clark said.
“We can do this one of two ways, three ways,” Sprague said. “We can contract with the state, and they provide the attorneys and all of our money goes to them. Or we can just use any local attorneys and other companies, whoever’s on their approved lists of attorneys. Or when they tell you case by case, we can put it out for a contract with a local nonprofit group of attorneys.”
Clark and Sprague said by doing the yearly proposals, it allows the county to be able to budget better.
“[If] it’s just court appointed individually, we can’t control, you don’t know how many cases they’re going to be… you can’t really budget for it,” Clark said. “So, if you do a contract, we’re locked in on a contract amount every month.”
The county front loads the service fees and then applies for reimbursement from the state.
Clark says the auditor’s office works with the group for monthly reports.
These costs do not cover murder and federal cases, Sprague said. The judge appoints those attorneys.
Clark said the bid is an open proposal each year and is advertised through the paper and county website.
Commissioners Harold Montgomery, Jay Stapleton and Eugene Greene also met with John Ferragonio, ABM Building and Energy Solution for ABM’s proposal to work with the county.
Ferragionio said his company works with counties to determine savings on energy saving projects. He said they assist with making “useful life” plans on facilities to help better evaluate and plan the replacement of equipment and building.
Ferragionio said the company could do a free walk through of facilities to give an estimate on how the company can help the county save money.
Montgomery entertained a motion to accept a memorandum of understanding that the company would just be doing a walk through at no price and then would meet back with the commission. Stapleton made the motion and Greene seconded the motion.
Montgomery said he would like the company to look at the air filter in the courthouse.
In other commission business, commissioners met with various departments to do a budget review for the upcoming year and offer suggestions for improvement.
The following departments met with the commission to review budgets for the upcoming year: John Grubb, I.T.; Roger Walker, recorder; Judge Margaret Evans, common pleas and Nick Mills, soil and water.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.