"...case law in Ohio is strongly on the side of the Judges and Clerk to determine their budget and to require the local municipalities to fund their budget.
But here's the kicker - that council and the mayor would be wise to remember: In determining the budget for the Clerk and Judges, the burden of proof is not with the Judges and Clerk. It is with the municipality - and the municipality, in denying the budgetary requests of these two entities, must prove that such budgets are 'unreasonable.' And that's a pretty high burden of proof for the city to undertake...especially when courts have ruled that the financial condition of the city is not an excuse for not funding the 'reasonable' requests of the Clerk and Court."
And as a result of the most recent ruling from the 6th District Court of Appeals, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner now knows this. Whether or not he chooses to admit it, though, is another thing entirely.
"In the decision, the appellate judges said: "The Court's judges are in the best position to know how many officers are needed to effectively secure courtrooms and the courthouse, whether such officers should be full-time or part-time employees, and which agency would best be able to provide qualified officers."
Although acknowledging a court's "power to demand funding from a legislative authority is not without limits," the appellate judges said the city has a duty to fund "suitable Municipal Court facilities.
"We are not unmindful of the city's concern about budgetary funding. … Nevertheless, [the city] does not claim [the judges'] cost proposal for 2008 or 2009 are facially groundless or unreasonable," the appellate judges said. "Instead, the city appears to have merely reduced the court security budget as part of an 'across-the-board' cut in overall expenses, and expected the court to accommodate the reduction by lowering security levels.""
So Toledo has to provide the funds requested by the Court for 2008, despite looking at a $10 million shortfall to close out the year. And it will have to do so for 2009, as well, even as the city struggles with a projected $23 million deficit.
Is this enough to get the mayor and city council focusing on priorities and mandated functions? Will this order for funding cause them to start cutting non-essential activities? Or will they 'spread the pain' so they don't upset particular interest groups?
The budget is due out today, so we'll know shortly. And then the people can speak.