COLUMBUS — Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann, Tony Bornhorst, and Bob Guillozet attended the 2019 Ohio Council of County Officials (OCCO) Legislative Reception earlier this month to meet with state legislators and help build a stronger partnership between state and county government.
An important topic of discussion was support for budget amendment HC0607 to fully fund indigent defense reimbursement.
“We are eager to work with our legislators to improve the state-county partnership,” Ehemann said. “Ohio’s 88 counties serve as the administrative arm of the state by providing vital services, such as infrastructure, justice and public safety, human services, and economic development, and we must work together to ensure that county revenue streams correspond to the services they are mandated by the state to provide.”
County leaders had the opportunity to meet with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted as well as their legislators to discuss issues affecting counties, including budget amendment HC0607.
“Meeting one-on-one and face-to-face is very important to us in being able to communicate our needs with our legislators,” said Guillozet.
Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed budget commits an additional $60 million each year in general revenue funds for indigent defense, providing for a reimbursement rate of approximately 80 percent. While The County Commissioners Association of Ohio greatly appreciates DeWine’s proposed substantial investment, CCAO is encouraging legislators to support HC0607 to provide 100 percent reimbursement.
“The state assuming full responsibility for indigent defense costs would give Shelby County additional flexibility in allocating scarce general fund revenue to support other county cost centers that are funded out of the county general fund,” Bornhorst said. “These additional funds would allow us to address economic development and local development.”
The State Public Defender’s office estimates that it will take an additional $30 million in fiscal year 2020 and $35 million in fiscal year 2021 in revenue in order to reach full reimbursement. HC0607 will provide this revenue, along with an additional $1.5 million in each year to support the operation of the State Public Defender’s office.
The CCAO advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.