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Published: Saturday, 6/7/2008

Decision awaited on security at courthouse

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kuhlman Kuhlman
HO Enlarge

Toledo Municipal Court judges are expected to decide Monday if they will order the city to keep using full-time Lucas County sheriff's deputies for courthouse security, presiding Judge Tim Kuhlman said yesterday.

The city has proposed going to part-time peace officers to save $800,000 a year.

"We are opposed to that," Judge Kuhlman said. "I tried to convince them part-time security will not work and they didn't give me any reason other than they think it will work."

He said the plan to use part-timers is inadequate because "there are too many cases and too many defendants."

The judge met earlier this week with Robert Reinbolt, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's chief of staff, Lucas County Sheriff James Telb, and Councilman D. Michael Collins.

The city has budgeted about $1.9 million a year for security at the downtown courthouse.

Mr. Collins said each deputy costs an average of $83,000 in salary and benefits.

Under the city's plan, the 22 sheriff's deputies would remain at the courthouse until Dec. 31.

Sheriff Telb previously said he'd reassign the deputies if the plan was followed and forgo hiring a class of new deputies later this year.

Yesterday, the sheriff said he was hopeful both sides would reach a decision soon so he would know whether the department needs to train a class of recruits this year.

The Finkbeiner administration unsuccessfully tried to get the deputies out of the courthouse for 2008.

Elizabeth Phillips, Mr. Finkbeiner's spokesman, declined to comment yesterday on negotiations between the mayor's office and the municipal court judges.

Also this week, Councilman Joe McNamara said the city should restore $45,000 for drug testing of criminal offenders so it can comply with a May 30 court order.

He said the city could do that by diverting revenue generated by Toledo's refuse fee.

"I am open to changing that if someone has a different idea for funding, but in May, the budget amount for the refuse fee was over $70,000 more than we had budgeted for," Mr. McNamara said.

Councilmen will review the proposal Tuesday.



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