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Ironton Municipal Court changes to save city money

Since taking office at the beginning of this year, Ironton Municipal Court Judge Kevin Waldo’s restructuring of the court will save the city significant money into the future.

Previous Ironton Municipal Court Judge Clark Collins Jr. set up five special funds years ago within the Ironton Municipal Court, including an indigent DUI fund, a computer fund, a home monitoring (GPS) fund, a supervision/probation fund, and a special projects fund, in which money that came into the court would then be divided up between those funds and the Ironton city general fund.

“When I got into office, there was more than $1.2 million in those funds altogether,” Waldo said. “And 80 percent of the court’s income was being divided up between those five funds and 20 percent was going back to the city. I’m turning that around to send around 80 percent back to the city and keep only around 20 percent for the court.”

Waldo added that in the about three months prior to him taking office, more than $250,000 was spent out of the court funds, mainly the special projects fund, which is what Collins used to purchase a three-lot property at the corner of Fourth and Vernon streets.

“That purchase was $150,000, and then Judge Collins spent approximately $55,000 for remodeling, painting, computers, copiers and other technology.” Waldo said. “That purchase was also done without an appraisal, a structural inspection and there are problems with water in the basement of that property with a pump that runs constantly. Judge Collins also bought a new truck for over $37,000 just before exiting.”

Waldo said that the reason he wants to send the majority of the money back to the city is because he believes the court has enough money with only 20 percent of the income, plus its budget.

“When we return this money to the city, it can be used for streets, services like the Ironton Police Department and the Ironton Fire Department and beautification efforts,” he said. “I feel like the money we have available is enough to run the court, and I restructured it to return more money to the city instead of just stockpiling it for the court.”

In addition to flipping the percentages to benefit the city more than the court, Waldo said he also has saved the city money by restructuring the court’s staff from the previous administration.

“Our budget is also $81,000 lower than the previous administration’s budget for 2017,” he said. “We’ve restructured the staff and payroll. People working here now have reasonable salaries and provide more efficient work. We did get rid of some people, but we did not lose any positions.”

With some of the surplus money from the court, Waldo also said that he is giving $60,000 to the city’s finance department for the purpose of getting a new computer server, which is more than 10 years old, and $50,000 to the city for the purpose of fixing up the Ironton City Center.

Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith said she has been very happy with everything Waldo has done with the Ironton Municipal Court, stating that just turning the percentages around to benefit the city more will dramatically improve the city.

“This is going to help the Ironton Police Department get the necessary equipment that they’ve lacked for so many years,” she said. “Just that alone can change the face of the police department.”

She added that in addition, she has also been working with Waldo in an effort to clean up the city.

“We’ve found it very difficult to hold people accountable to maintain their properties,” she said. “Judge Waldo is working with us now to cite people who violate our Chapter 660 laws, associated with the health and safety of the community, straight into court. With him doing that, the city doesn’t have to use resources to keep taking care of those things and paying for it.”

Ironton Finance Director John Elam said that although it is too early to tell the exact savings to the city, given that Waldo has only been in office since the beginning of the year, he believes the changes to the court will only continue to improve the city.

“We’re very optimistic with the redistribution of funds collected by the Ironton Municipal Court,” he said. “And it’s been very encouraging with the things he’s doing so far and what he’s committed to for the future.”