Morrow County Commissioners approved an agreement at their Wednesday meeting between the Morrow County Municipal Court and the Commissioners involving the purchase of the house and real estate at 28 E. High Street in Mount Gilead.
The agreement states that the Court agrees to provide the purchase money for this property from its Special Project Fund. This fund includes no tax dollars or money budgeted from the county’s general operating fund. The Special Project Fund is made up only of money collected from fees, traffic tickets and other fines generated by the County Municipal court.
Commissioner Dennis Leader noted that the funds used for this purchase can only be used by the court at the judge’s discretion and are segregated from other county funds. He added that the Morrow County Municipal Court is one of only a few county municipal courts in the state.
Judge Lee McClelland of the County’s Municipal Court said the building will primarily be used for the court’s two probation officers. He anticipates that there will be fewer security problems at that location than at their present area in the Court House.
This transaction is made with the Commissioners because the courts only manage the property and ownership is with the county. The renovation of the Municipal Court and its offices three to four years ago were also covered by money from this Special Projects fund.
This agreement also states that the property at 28 E. High St. is “designated as the future site of a new Municipal Court Criminal and Civil Justice Facility.”
Although there is not currently not enough money in the Special Project Fund for the purpose of building a Municipal Court Facility, McClelland indicated that this fund could be built up to provide funds for a new building to house the Municipal County Court in the future. There is about $500,000 in the fund at the present time after the purchase of the property.
McClelland’s court cases are misdemeanor cases that involve small claims, traffic violations, and misdemeanor criminal cases such as assaults and domestic violence. Civil cases are in amounts up to $15,000 and small claims are up to $3,000. He said the court heard more than 10,000 cases so far in this calendar year to date. There are two probation officers that serve the court. Each officer has over 600 cases they follow.
The judge said that many of the cases in court are from traffic cases on Route I 71. He added that funds from traffic and other fines also provide the money for a computer fund as well as for the special project fund.
The complete text of this financing agreement for the E. High Street property can be seen online at www.morrowcountyohio.gov – go to Administration, Commissioners, then meetings Journal for Nov. 23, 2016.