The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 4, 2013

County continues to hear budget requests

Staff Writer

JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Commissioners held a public hearing for the Ashtabula County Veterans Service Com-mission’s 2014 budget Tuesday.

The Veterans Service Commission is legislated by the state under the Ohio Revised Code. It is funded by Ashtabula County property taxes.

The Veterans Service Commis-sion Board of Commissioners gave a presentation to county commissioners and the county budget advisory committee on how the organization operates as well as its goals.

Commissioners also heard budget requests from the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office, Ashtabula County Department of Environmental Services, Ashtabula County Board of Elections, Eastern County Court and Western County Court.

Rich Mongell, of the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office said the coroner’s budget for 2014 is seeing an increase in healthcare costs. Last year, the office only had one employee enrolled in the county’s healthcare plan, next year, three employees will be enrolled.

Mongell also discussed the office’s request for additional training funds so the new investigator can attend school in St. Louis, MO.

“St. Louis Medical School is the best training,” he said.

The new investigator, Tom Dispenes, will undergo one week of intensive training to better prepare him as a forensic investigator.

“The more training we have, the less problems we have as death investigators,” he said. “With the proper training we can determine at the scene what transpired.”

Mongell said that helps cut back on the number of autopsies that need to be performed. The county contracts with the Cuyahoga Medical Examiner’s Office for all autopsies.

Last year 39 autopsies were performed. So far this year, 33 have been performed. Mongell said the county has been hit hard within the last week and a half with the double homicide, a suicide and the fetus that was found. All incidents took place within a two-day time frame.

The Coroner’s Office also  is looking for some extra money to purchase some new equipment, including some new cameras. Mongell said the cameras being used now are only 8 megapixels. The office is hoping to upgrade those to newer models that offer 24 megapixels.

“Our photographs are everything,” he said.

Mongell said the photographs taken at the scene are often used in court cases.

The commissioners will continue the budget work sessions today beginning at 1 p.m. Departments scheduled include the Ashtabula County Recor-der’s Office, Planning and Community Services De-partment, Emergency Management Agency and the Soil and Water Con-servation District.