State AG yet to issue opinion

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A request for an Ohio attorney general’s opinion concerning the authority of the county budget commission remains under review, according to a spokesman with the AG’s office.

At the end of December county prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson requested the opinion from attorney general Mike DeWine following a dispute among members of the budget commission on who can legally determine the amount of revenue the county can spend. There must be a certification of estimated revenue before the county commission can appropriate any of it.

During recent budget commission meetings county auditor Jason Stephens refused to bring before that body a request to add $500,000 to the 2015 certification of revenue, even though the other two members — county treasurer Stephen Burcham and Anderson — were in favor of it. At a later meeting, Burcham and Anderson expected the commission to determine collectively the certification of special revenue funds such as those for the dog pound or the board of developmental disabilities.

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Stephens already certified those funds, however, sending them to the county commission office without discussion or a vote by the budget commission. He acted on the grounds that he is the fiscal officer for the county and has the authority according to the Ohio Revised Code.

All three agreed to seek DeWine’s opinion on whether the auditor, treasurer and county prosecutor have an equal vote in the decisions made by the budget commission and does the budget commission issue the certification of estimated revenue or is it solely by the auditor.

There is no estimate on the timeframe for DeWine’s opinion.

“It depends,” Dan Tierney, DeWine spokesman, said. “Some resolve very quickly. The prosecuting attorney presents a legal question and our office researches it to issue an attorney general’s opinion.”

No one on the budget commission has been interviewed by DeWine’s office, butthat is not unusual.

“Sometimes we have enough information,” Tierney said.

Right now the request for the opinion is on the attorney general’s website. When the opinion is issued, it will also be on the website at