SCIOTO — Thursday’s Scioto County Commissioners meeting was a brief nine item affair, but not one without significance.
In its final legislation item, the commissioners announced that a memorandum of understanding had been reached between Scioto County Sheriff David Thoroughman and Juanita Belford, thus resolving a yearlong disagreement.
“Item nine has been a longtime coming,” said Commissioner Bryan Davis, going back to at least September 2019. “I really appreciate Mrs. Belford and her family in working with our prosecutors in resolving this.”
Through the agreement, the retired Sheriff vehicles that have sat at the junkyard of retired and now deceased special deputy Jess Belford will be removed and taken to a licensed salvage yard. The Belford family will be compensated $2,000 by the commissioners for any needed landscape work or repair once the vehicles are taken away from the property.
With anywhere from 73 to 74 vehicles currently sitting at the lot, Davis said it will likely take multiple days to remove each and the work will be done in the following 90 days.
Davis said Commissioner Scottie Powell came up with the idea for the $2,000 pay-out to the Belford, a move that both said was the “right thing to do.”
“They were put into a situation where maybe promises were made, and not that I agree with any of it, but as we are taking these pieces and machinery off there’s a likelihood that we’ll rud up their property” said Powell, his term starting more than a year after former Sheriff Marty Donini made his case. “It’s important to set their property right and our books right.”
During that commissioners meeting almost 20 months ago, Donini submitted a letter asking them to approve transferring titles for the vehicles to Michael Belford, son of Jess and Juanita.
He broke from the late Commissioner Mike Crabtree who believed there was value in the cars, Donini claiming county taxpayers would be subject to “unnecessary financial costs pertaining to the storage fees for storing the vehicles,” if the vehicles were moved to another location.
Davis said preliminary information indicates that funds can be derived from the vehicles. Those funds- $250 per car from one estimate- he said will go into the county’s general fund. By the math of Commissioner Cathy Coleman, more than $18,000 would go toward Scioto.
“It’s your money and it’s rightfully going back to where it needs to be,” she said, referring to the taxpayers.
Furthermore, the agreement will only be a gain, not a cost for the county. In past coverage from the PortsmouthDailyTimes, Donini said state law permitted storage facilities to charge up to $17 each day per vehicle making for a total cost of $384,710 for what was 62 vehicles in question.
Along with the fiscal plus, Davis said getting the books cleaned for the new sheriff was another boost. Thoroughman is in the process of purchasing 11 new vehicles– 10 from the rotary fund and one through federal forfeiture- for the office.
“He’s already identified the cars that are going to auction, which is the proper way to do this,” said Davis of the sheriff. “They will not be going to a field somewhere, but they’ll be auctioned off in the appropriate manner.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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