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Published: Tuesday, 6/10/2008

Toledo loses round in security dispute

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kuhlman Kuhlman
HO Enlarge

The seven Toledo Municipal Court judges yesterday made good on their threat to order the city to keep using full-time Lucas County sheriff's deputies for courthouse security, presiding Judge Tim Kuhlman said.

"The administration, I assume, will appeal to the court of appeals or [the Ohio] Supreme Court," Judge Kuhlman said. "In the meantime, our order stands unless a higher court overrules it."

The mayor's office and the municipal court judges have clashed for years over spending for security.

The Finkbeiner administration has proposed for at least a second consecutive year going to part-time peace officers to save about $800,000 a year.

Judge Kuhlman said part-time security will not work because the deputies, in addition to screening the public, transport prisoners and work as bailiffs.

"We typically have 60 to 90 custodies in this courthouse per day," the judge said in a letter to Mayor

Finkbeiner and City Council. "It is not unusual for that number to be over 100 and up to 140 per day."

The city has budgeted about $1.9 million a year for security at the downtown courthouse and the judges' order demands funding to be set at $1.95 million for 2009.

It also requires the city to add a 23rd deputy. The number was reduced by one this year to save costs, in addition to cutting the court's hours.

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

Lucas County Sheriff James Telb said he would reassign the deputies at the court if the city's plan was followed and forgo hiring a class of new deputies later this year.

Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

City Council President Mark Sobczak said both sides would reach an amicable agreement before the end of the year.

"I believe it's council's commitment to provide the Toledo Municipal Court with adequate funding for security," Mr. Sobczak said. "As to the makeup of the security staff, I think that discussion is best left up to city and county officials who deal with that on a daily basis."

The proposed cuts last year to the city criminal justice system were part of the Finkbeiner administration's plans to close a multimillion dollar deficit.

"In tough financial times, I think it's important we look to all avenues for savings," Mr. Sobczak said. "It's what you have to do when you are trimming $10 million a year out of the budget."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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