Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Mason grants compensation for magistrate's extra duties

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Just weeks after a request for two part-time probation officers was withdrawn, City Council approved a minor staffing change for Mason Municipal Court.

To compensate for doing extra duties while the criminal magistrate position is vacant, the chief magistrate will be paid an additional $1,000 a month for no more than three months, according to the ordinance passed Monday night. The pay is retroactive to July 1, when the criminal magistrate position was vacated.

The chief magistrate makes $15,000 a year.

City Council approved the compensation without debate, though previous requests have been highly scrutinized. Council has repeatedly expressed concerns about increased spending since Judge George Parker took the bench in January 2002. Since then, 11 new court positions and several salary increases have been approved by council, although the most recent request, to add two probation officers, was withdrawn in June. Clerk of Court Bill Scherpenberg said the request was withdrawn to avoid a fight over outside issues.

The city police department also has scrutinized some of Parker's actions, including a recent court order that prompted the police department to take two beat officers off the street for surveillance of a theft suspect who lives in Hamilton County's Green Township.

Councilman Tom Grossmann said the court liaison committee had met with court staff, and said the court will make sure officers are in accord when are to be used as ex-officio bailiffs in the future.

Also Monday night, City Council created a position to staff a new competitive swimming program for the city. The year-round swim team would be in addition to the recreational team that swims at the outdoor pool.


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