Court proposes increase in security

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

In a letter to Portsmouth City Council, Portsmouth Municipal Court judges Steven L. Mowery and Russell D. Kegley are requesting an increase in the court’s security fund and an increase in service provided including covering security for City Council meetings.

“That (security for City Council) was suggested by (Fifth Ward Councilman) Gene Meadows,” Mowery told the Daily Times. “He’s the one that raised that issue. I don’t know if that’s still on the minds of Council and if that’s a majority opinion or not. I don’t know what that would entail.”

Mowery said the plan was to put together an estimate as to what the cost would be for City Manager Derek K. Allen. He said the cost to the city would be $6,500 per year. The court has, according to Mowery, been paying two part time security officers to secure the central control screening for the entire building at no cost to the city and those two security officers are paid for from a fund established by the court at a cost of $47,000 per year.

In 2009, the Municipal Court decided to cancel its contract with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office for inmate transportation and court security to be more cost effective for the city. The contract was for two part time sheriff’s deputies at an annual cost of $104,000 with 10 percent increases per year, paid by the city of Portsmouth. Since cancelling the contract, the court has provided two full time officers at the same cost.

After seven years, the actual personnel cost for the two officers is $134,094 annually, which has left a deficit of $30,094 per year. Now the court is asking the city to make up the difference.

Mowery said the court has lost one employee and they have not filled that position.

“Part of the idea too is to get our security people who are part time to full time,” Mowery said. “I don’t know what that is going to cost on our insurance, but that’s part of the thing not to fill that other position, put these security guys at full time, then they would be able to do more of the community service in the afternoons.”

Mowery said, by bringing the two employees to full time status it would also boost security for City Council meetings.

What would the total cost to the city be?

Mowery said the court would like to propose the city increase their annual payment to the court security fund by $30,094 to a total of $134,094 annually to cover inmate transport and court security which the Municipal Court has been covering for the past eight years and all future increases associated with those officers. He said the increase would still save the city approximately $53,000 per year based on the previous contract with the sheriff’s office.

Will the total price quoted cover everything?

“Actually not,” Mowery said. “But we’re willing to take a lot of that on. We have taken that on through the court’s budget. So that is not totally funded. We (court) fund a lot of our own expenses. I think we only get $3,000 a year from the city for supplies.”

The offer will come up at Monday’s City Council meeting during the city manager’s conference agenda.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.