Commission votes to raise attorney reimbursement

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2023

Changed to $75 an hour

The Lawrence County Commission voted at their meeting on Tuesday to raise the rate of reimbursement for attorneys doing public defense work for the county.

The commission heard a presentation from Gene Meadows of the Lawrence County Bar Association, an attorney practicing in Ironton, in which he stated that Lawrence County had one of the lowest reimbursement rates in Ohio.

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Meadows, who also works in neighboring counties, said that the rate is much lower than the surrounding region.

“Comparable to the area, we are low,” he said. “And it has always been low.”

He said a raise was needed, as “the cost of running an office goes up and the cost of employees goes up.”

All of our expenses go up, and, if we can’t do something to match that, we are going to go under,” he said.

Meadows, who sought a raise to $75 an hour for both in-court and out-of-court time, said, from his experience serving on Portsmouth’s city council that he understands “nobody likes to spend money,” when it comes to public funds.

“But court-appointed council is a right,” he said. “The defense bar is very important in protecting the rights of people who come through the courts.”

He described the raise as a “pretty good bargain.”

“You’re not only paying for my license, but my experience and knowledge,” he said. “This is not an eight-hour-a-day job.”

Commissioner Mike Finley pointed out that the county’s budget was done before he took office in January.

He said what Meadows and attorneys are seeking is “a fair rate”,” but wanted the start date moved to Nov. 1.

“That’s the only way I can see that we stay in budget,” he said.

Commissioner DeAnna Holliday agreed, thanking Meadows for the compromise.

“We appreciate the work you do for Lawrence County,” she said. “it is important work.

Holliday and Finley both voted to give the raise at flat rate of $75, beginning for cases appointed after Nov. 1.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Voted to approve the minutes of the meeting held Aug. 11, as corrected.

• Approved the following floodplain permits submitted by the Soil and Water Conservation District:

Renewal: 2023-816 Robert & Geraldine Null-Stream Maintenance project located at 2868 State Route 378 and across from 6737 State Route 217, 2023-817 Jason Tolliver-Filling & grading project located at the M.M. 11000 State Route 7, 2023-818 McSweeney’s Mill & Mine Service-Filling & Grading project located at 7860 County Road 15

• Approved the following appropriations/transfers, dated Aug. 15, under $50,000 submitted by the acting county administrator.

• Approved and signed the 2023 Lawrence County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Preparedness Plan, requested by Mike Boster, EMA director.

• Approved the Certificate of Confidential Funds 2023-RO-ETF-R562, submitted by chief investigator, David Marcum. 

• Reappointed Natalie Adams to the STAR Facility Governing Board for a three-year term, beginning Oct. 12, through October 2026, requested by Judge Andrew Ballard and Judge Christen Finley, of Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

– Commission president Colton Copley was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, due to illness.