New Philadelphia, Ohio - The Tuscarawas County Commissioners are applauding Governor Mike DeWine’s decision increase funding for indigent defense reimbursement as part of his proposed budget.
Commissioner Chris Abbuhl says the governor wants to allocate an additional $60 million per year to reimburse county governments for more of the cost of providing public defenders for people who don’t have the means to hire an attorney.
“What reimbursements we’re right now from the state is about 43 percent,” he says. “With the governor’s proposal, that will bring us up to 80 percent, which is a huge amount of money for Tuscarawas County.”
Abbuhl says this proposal, if approved, would free up some additional money for things like capital improvement projects and economic development initiatives.
“Over the last number of years, those local government funds and CO dollars and all those things have lowered our general fund monies that we receive,” he says. “This will allow us to be able to save those dollars.”
Tuscarawas County Auditor Larry Lindberg says if approved, the plan would save the county about $350,000 per year.
“The majority of the money that funds the public defender does come from the county general fund, so it could be a significant savings to the county general fund if approved,” he says. “Basically, we’d be doubling almost what we’re currently being reimbursed, and that could be a help.”
Abbuhl says the proposal is still subject to change as the budget makes its way through the state legislature. He says they’re hopeful that lawmakers will see the value in the governor’s proposal and keep it intact.