Sunday, December 05, 1999

Probate Court demands more money

Order sent to county seeks more than $170,000

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County officials received a court order Friday from Probate Court, demanding more than $170,000 in additional money for the court's 2000 budget.

        Probate Court officials have been squabbling with the county for more than two years over its budget, said David Krings, county administrator.

        Probate Judge Wayne Wilke's court order demands:

        • $104,105 for retroactive pay increases for Probate Court staff.

        • $50,000 to reimburse the court for a portion of two studies done to look at workload and salaries.

        • $6,000 for one part-time and five new full-time positions for the remainder of 1999.

        • $5,200 for pay increases.

        • $4,900 for bonuses.

        • $9,000 for new work stations.

        Last month, Judge Wilke asked commissioners to pay for the court's legal expenses in hiring an outside attorney should it have to sue the county over the budget.

        Commissioners rejected that request, and they apparently will turn down the judge's court order.

        Two of the three commissioners contacted Saturday said they would not approve the order, which will leave the court the option of taking the matter to appellate court.

        “I would expect us not to agree to this,” Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus said. “We'll make an offer to again sit down and work with probate court to come to some sort of an agreement.”

        Commissioner John Dowlin said the county has offered to help pay for salary and workload studies but wanted to have some say in the methodology used.

        Probate Court officials have said that is unacceptable. Judge Wilke was unavailable for comment Saturday.

        “After thoughtful consideration, (Judge Wilke) was compelled to conclude that any such agreement would seriously jeopardize the integrity, independence and autonomy of the judicial branch,” the court order states.

        Commissioners will take up the matter in Tuesday's staff meeting.


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