Local officials discuss issues at breakfast forum
by Dennis Sharkey
The annual Eggs and Issues breakfast made the stop at the Perry American Legion earlier this month.
Some local elected officials took the opportunity to update voters about current issues within the county and what’s ahead.
Sheriff Jeff Herrig informed those in attendance that his Web site launched last year is up and running and encouraged residents to utilize it. The site can be used for checking inmate rosters or locating sex offenders among other things.
Herrig also spoke about issues he has with sheriff sales that involve real estate property.
“I’m not sure that should be our responsibility in law enforcement,” Herrig said. “We’ve got other things to do.”
Herrig thinks the mortgage companies should handle the problems themselves and also said some of the problems seem to be created by the banks.
He noted many problems that have been publicized in the last year of banks holding a mortgage but not the original paperwork.
He also thinks banks and mortgage companies are not giving some homeowners a fair shake.
“In some instances I don’t think the mortgage company is giving people a fair opportunity to get squared away and work with people,” he said. “The mortgage companies as far as I’m concerned need to work with the people somehow. At least show an effort.”
Herrig said he will try to speak with a sheriff from the Detroit area later this year about why he decided to quit doing the sales.
Some sales are necessary though. He said some people cannot afford a home they’re in.
“There are times it has to be done,” he said. “There are people out there that abuse the system.”
County Prosecutor Robert Fox spoke publicly for the first time since being appointed by the Jefferson County Republican Central Committee in January to fill the unexpired term of Caleb Stegall.
“We’re trying to carry on of what a great job that Caleb Stegall started,” Fox said.
Fox said his staff is working with county schools to educate students about things such as alcohol and texting abuse.
He said they are visiting driver’s education classes to talk about DUI and talking to students about harassing others via a text message.
“We think if we can get our foot in the door up front we might be able to cut down on some of those issues,” Fox said.
Fox also deflected the success the office has had in prosecutions since Stegall took over in 2009 to Herrig’s department.
“I will tell you 90 percent of the cases are won or lost in the investigation,” Fox said. “We’re as successful as we are because of the great job they do.”
Fox said his office is not involved in defending the lawsuit recently filed against the county that involves a sexually oriented business near Meriden that has been proposed.
First District Commissioner Richard Malm spoke briefly and said the lawsuit is the biggest issue facing the county at this time. He said a bill that passed the House this year but stalled in a Senate committee would help the county’s cause.
The bill would limit where SOBs could be located. It would also restrict the hours of operation and how they operate.
“I hope the legislature passes that bill,” he said. “It sure would help us out.”
Malm also talked about the county’s fiscal budget that will be approved later this summer. Malm said valuations remain stagnant to slightly lower than last year.
“This year it doesn’t look any better than the last two or three years,” Malm said.
The biggest challenge to the budget is health insurance premiums. Out of the approximate 64 mills that are assessed by the county, roughly 12 mills go to pay for health insurance.
The county changed to a selfinsured plan last year and costs increased by nine percent more than the previous year. If the county had stayed with the insurance carrier, increases would have exceeded 20 percent.
Malm said the state has cut funding to the county and interest rates have plummeted.
In 2008 the county received roughly $460,000 in interest from reserve funding accounts. Last year the county brought in $29,000.
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