SCIOTO- The Scioto County Commissioners granted multiple requests from the sheriff’s office during its Thursday meeting, moves that will both update and expand its services.
Using funds at his discretion, Sheriff David Thoroughman was in attendance to explain the request for 11 new vehicles- 10 from the rotary fund and one through federal forfeiture. The new vehicles would be Dodge Durangos and Chevy Tahoes.
“The vehicles that are currently in the use by the township deputies school resource officers will be sent down to open road positions and then the current open road positions will be used as spare vehicles,” he said describing the process, just three months into his elected role.
The office will be retiring ten vehicles, auctioning eight of them and potentially donating two to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Commissioner Scottie Powell would like to see, if possible, those other two vehicles to remain in the county.
“I want to be a good neighbor, but at the same time if somebody can utilize those resources it would make sense to ask around,” he said. Thoroughman replied that he had reached out to the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office, but had yet to hear a reply.
These conversations take place in the backdrop of the multi-year issue of vehicles collecting dust at a local junkyard, referred to Commissioner Bryan Davis as the “Belford Situation.” Its moniker is derived from the junkyard owner and now deceased former deputy Jess Belford who allowed the office to store the vehicles on the property without charge.
In September 2019, the Portsmouth Daily Times reported on the moving cost of the 62 unused department vehicles which former county sheriff Marty Donini said would amount to over $380,000.
“If the board of commissioners chooses any other method of disposing of these vehicles, they will subject the taxpayers to unnecessary financial costs pertaining to the storage fees for storing the vehicles,” he is quoted in a Sept. 13, 2019 article.
The commissioners and Donini discussed the matter the day before in a tense Thursday session, where the prior sheriff requested that the vehicle titles to Michael Belford, son of Jess. Ultimately, Donini’s letter was accepted but no action was taken.
“I can’t help but think they could make something out off them,” former Commissioner Mike Crabtree said during the Sept. 12, 2019 session.
In current day, a meeting between the prosecutor’s office to resolve the matter has been scheduled. Davis said he wished it could have happened earlier, but the office has been hampered by COVID-19 sickness and computer issues.
“Hopefully, we’ll come to an understanding here soon to see what we’ll be able to do,” he said, his understanding that the meeting would take place later that day. The number of parked cars he reported, 74, was higher than the Times original total.
According to the Ohio Administrative Code, the maximum daily fee for storing motor vehicles is $17. Based on the 74 vehicle figure, the total sum of yearly storage would be $459,170 as each vehicle would be $6,205.
Later in the same session, the commissioners reached two contract agreements to expand police protection in Washington and Nile townships. Approving two part-time deputies, Davis said it would be like hiring one full-time deputy since the townships are neighboring each other.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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