Budget remains steady in 2013

The local judge charged with overseeing the budget for the Auglaize County Common Pleas Court says it is hard to predict what funding will be needed in 2013.

Judge Fred Pepple requested $229,193 in his budget for next year during a meeting Tuesday with the Auglaize County commissioners. It is the same amount his office requested for 2012.

The highest costs reflected in the budget include $141,000 for employee salaries, $22,000 for juror fees, $21,150 for employee benefits, and $11,000 for contract services.

Other line items include, supplies, equipment, travel, witness fees, transcripts, foreign judge, and workers compensation.

“Sometimes line items are a little misleading,” Pepple said, explaining that in some cases the money is spent, but fees are collected to compensate for it.

“We do get the majority of it eventually,” he said, talking about drug tests and supervision fees charged to defendants. “The number of heroin and drug cases and the number of people asking for treatment in lieu of conviction is way up. The costs involved for some of those evaluations were going way up and we have tried to rethink the way we were doing that.”

Money budgeted for transcripts isn’t actually an expense, but he needs to be budgeted for in case someone pays for more pages than needed.

“It’s there if we need to pay them back,” Pepple said.

“Juror fees, we never know what we will need,” he said. “We pray we won’t spend near that, but you never know and we have to have it in there.”

To date, the court’s jury trial schedule is full with a trial scheduled each week through April 1.

“You never know, they could change their minds, but everyone says they are all going to go,” Pepple said.

He said his department also has had some equipment issues this year, so it’s something to always be prepared for.

With employees who have earned more than four weeks of vacation each year, the judge said the budget also needs to be able to provide backup support for when those employees are off work.

“We have to replace them when they are gone,” Pepple said.