Harrison commissioners adopt budget

CADIZ – The Harrison County Board of Commissioners met Wednesday and approved the 2011 General Fund Budget for all offices within the county.

Showing a slight increase from the last year’s total, the $2,919,613.23 budget was unanimously approved.

Chairman Barbara Pincola stated the final budget was within the amended certificate total of $2,919,613.80, showing a difference of only 57 cents.

Numerous transfers were made prior to the budget approval where the board appropriated $37,910.62 into the Homeland Security Grant account and $11,218 from A315-A13 other. Commissioners also transfered $35,000 from A402-C42 Sargus to A006-A07 Prisoner Keep.

“We are doing this now. We are about to approve the final budget for the year and this was already appropriated funds so we are transferring it into the prisoner keep so we have less than we have to place into (that fund) for the rest of the year,” said Pincola of the transfers. “It all came out to the same amount.”

The general fund budget for all county offices were approved as follows: Auditor $135,927.28; Clerk of Court, $128,618.62; Commissioners, $924,886.40; Common Pleas General Division, $109,933; Common Pleas Juvenile Division, $92,290; Coroner, $28,462.05; County Court, $100,000; Election Board, $133,858.95; Engineer, $5,000; Prosecuting Attorney, $244,153.79; Public Defender, $142,821.67; Recorder, $113,754.60; Sheriff, $554,880.90; Treasurer, $100,230.96; Veterans Commission, $104,795.

In other business, Doug Crabtree appeared before commissioners representing Engineer Robert Sterling who requested that commissioners approve a stop sign placement at intersecting county roads.

“The intersection of county roads 33 and 16 is currently a 3-way stop,” Crabtree read from a memo. “Only the east-bound lane of C. R. 16, on the west side of the intersection, is not required to stop.

“Oxford Mining will be mining in that area and after reviewing the road and upgrading some safety issues it is in the best interest of public safety to request that this board authorize the county engineer to erect a stop sign for the east-bound lane of C. R. 16 on the west side of this intersection.”

The board made a motion to approve the placement of the new signage changing the intersection to a 4-way stop.

Crabtree stated that to his knowledge no accidents have occurred at the intersection adding, “With the increased truck traffic, we are just trying to avert some issues down the line.”

“Please tell the engineer we appreciate his concern for the public safety and keeping an eye on that out there,” said Commissioner Don Bethel. Crabtree stated that the stop sign would be placed immediately.

Commissioner Bill Host called for a motion to adjournment but was interrupted by area resident Joyce Klingler who was present to receive a response from the commissioners on a request for a resolution she had made during the board’s last session. Her interjection was noted by Bethel.

“I just don’t want to ignore her,” said Bethel.

That comment drew a response from Pincola who preferred to adjourn the meeting without further discussion.

The commission chair argued that Klingler was not on the agenda for the meeting. Bethel countered her denials saying to Klingler, “You did put your name on the agenda for last week and did not demand an answer last week which I appreciated. I just don’t want to totally blow it off.

“I don’t want to speak, certainly not on behalf of the commissioners, that is for certain,” Bethel continued. “But I do want to address your points.

“I did not discuss this with the other commissioners, this is just Don Bethel speaking, but I do feel that you deserve a response,” he told Klingler stating his personal appraisal of the proposed bill.

“As a business owner and with my wife being a union member, I certainly understand the issue,” Bethel continued. “It is my opinion that when you work for the public entity, ever so often that person should have to stand on their own two feet and face the public, but it is critical that they stand on their own with union representation.

“Should they be able to bargain collectively? Yes. For their entire working public career? No,” Bethel concluded. “It makes that union representative’s job more difficult, but it also makes that representative’s job more important.”

“I am going to have to cut this right now, because we are getting in a discussion between Joyce Klingler and Don Bethel.” Pincola stated. “This a county board of commissioners and we work collectively here.

“If you want Don Bethel’s opinion you can meet him after the meeting,” said Pincola, who also proceeded by adding the board’s official response.

“As far as the board is concerned I think Don stated it perfectly last week when he said that the CCAO, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, which we are a paid member of, they represent and lobby on behalf of the commissioners and they have made a very good statement to the Senate on how they stand and that is a collective group,” she said. “Some commissioners have done a resolution but at this point, after being put to a vote, we are not going to do anything.”

Klingler thanked the board for its answer and then asked that she would like to be on the agenda after the required nine-day waiting period to once again discuss that very issue.

“That is our policy,” said Pincola.

“That has been your policy since (former commissioner) Dennis Watson decided to do that policy,” Klinger retorted.

“That is our policy, we don’t want people to just come in here,” Pincola said. “How does Koppel put it, ‘This is a meeting held in public.’ Our policy, is our policy and it will remain our policy.”

“I don’t agree with that policy, but as long as there is enough votes to continue with it …,” said Bethel. “You should not have to wait two weeks, I think three days are plenty.”

Klingler stated that the policy had never been voted on, that it was former Harrison County Commissioner Watson who had decided on the waiting period and no vote was ever taken.

“Our meetings are business meetings only,” Pincola said. “Judge Nunner told me, one of the first things he said when I took office was, ‘I want you to stop this being used as a forum for people to come here and air their personal grievances or state even their personal opinions because that is not what this is, this is a business meeting where we are charged with properly spending the public’s money.’

“That is our role. That is all this is supposed to be for and if you have a personal grievance or something then you write a letter to the editor and then scream all you want,” Pincola said. “We need to get away from this group being used in that fashion.”

“I think you need to read the commissioner handbook,” said Klingler.

“I have read it and obviously you have your own interpretation,” Pincola answered.

“We can discuss it at some point,” interjected Commissioner Host.

But the debate continued with Bethel having the last word.

“I believe it is important to hear from the public,” Bethel said. “If we determine that by what you are saying, that you creating a nuisance, then you lose the privilege to speak to the commissioners, but until that time I think it is important to have the opportunity to talk.”

Palmer may be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com