By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER

The Hancock County commissioners approved a resolution Thursday opposing Issue 1, the proposed state constitutional amendment aimed at reforming Ohio’s drug sentencing laws.

The issue will be before Ohio voters on Nov. 6.

Last week, the commissioners met with Findlay Municipal Court and Hancock County Common Pleas Court judges, who voiced concern about the local impact that approval of the ballot issue would have on drug court, city and county finances.

They said a constitutional amendment was not needed, and there was widespread opposition to the proposal.

Among other things, if approved, the issue would reduce fourth- and fifth-degree felony charges to misdemeanors for some drug possession offenses.

Separately, the commissioners approved a resolution to contract with AT&T for several landlines to provide phone service for the dispatch center in the county justice center and Findlay Municipal Building.

If the recently installed voice over internet protocol, or VoIP, phone system should stop working, which could happen with the computer-based system, the county and city want a backup to handle emergency calls.

The county will have a handful of lines available and will pay $27 per line monthly for the 36-month contract. The city will share the cost by making payment to the county.

The commissioners also met with Hancock County Auditor Charity Rauschenberg and Adam Witteman, fiscal services administrator, to continue discussions about the county finances with the recent completion of the third quarter.

County sales tax receipts remain flat compared to 2017, while investment income is up. But the expense of providing legal counsel for indigent defendants, for housing prisoners in other county jails because of crowded conditions locally, and monthly payments to the county Department of Job and Family Services for child protective services are pinching this year’s general fund budget.

Generally, the county wants to have a $2.5 million carryover into the new calendar year to handle first-quarter expenses until real estate tax payments are received from property owners.

The auditor’s office personnel continue to work with departments on their 2019 budgets. The commissioners will hold hearings with each department in November.

The budget will be available for public review during 10 days in December. The commissioners will then take action on the financial document before Jan. 1.

The commissioners also met in closed executive session Thursday to discuss personnel. No action was taken.

Maurer: 419-427-8420
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