Throughout the past 10 years, the state of Ohio has reduced funding that had come to county governments to help pay for the defense of indigent individuals who came before county courts.

By 2016, state reimbursements for these legal fees had amounted to only 35 percent of what they were in 2007.

Citing this lost funding, and additional anticipated loss of funding through the state’s reduction in the Local Government Fund, Medicaid Managed Care sales tax elimination and tangible personal property tax — as well as loss of revenues from other taxes — Williams County Commissioners joined other Ohio counties in passing a resolution that calls on the Ohio Senate to approve additional funding.

As he ran for office, and since he’s been in office, Gov. Mike DeWine committed to increased funding for the support of indigent defense to the state’s counties. In his budget, DeWine provided counties with an additional $60 million for each fiscal year, and the Ohio House of Representatives provided an additional $35 million in fiscal year 2021 to the state budget to reimburse counties for indigent defense costs.

The Ohio Senate, however, has yet to adopt the increased funding.

“This board applauds and sincerely thanks Gov. DeWine for listening to county budgetary concern and addressing indigent defense costs with his historic and impactful investment included in his introduced budget,” states the resolution that county commissioners passed on Thursday.

The resolution continues, “this board deeply appreciates and sincerely thanks the Ohio House of Representatives for further increasing the indigent defense appropriation by $35 million in (fiscal year 2021) which should fully reimburse counties for their indigent defense costs.”

Forwarded to the state senate, the Williams County resolution calls upon the Ohio Senate to maintain the House of Representatives’ appropriation for indigent defense reimbursement in the state budget to ensure that the state mandate remains funded.

In other business on Thursday, Williams County Commissioners:

• Approved a service package contract for heart monitors for Williams County EMS;

• Approved a clinical affiliation agreement between Northwest State Community College and Williams County Hillside Country Living;

• Approved a levy renewal request for the Williams County Public Library. The renewal is for one mill and for five years. The issue moves to the board of elections for inclusion on the Nov. 5 ballot;

• Approved a contract extension for transportation services provided to Williams County Job and Family Services by K&P Medical Transportation, LLC. The total amount of the contract is not to exceed $300,000; and,

• Approved the purchase of a new lawn mower for Hillside Country Living, at a cost of $11,800, from Tom’s Lawn and Garden.

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