MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners are scheduled to meet Thursday at 10 a.m. with Common Pleas Court judges Philip Mayer and Brent Robinson to discuss potential increases in fees paid to court-appointed attorneys.
The issue first came up in March when representatives from the Richland County Bar Association told commissioners fees paid to attorneys representing local indigent residents have not been raised in 16 years.
At the time, it was believed the increase could cost Richland County an additional $284,375 each year.
The requested increase, recommended in February by the Ohio Public Defender's Office, would raise the fees to $75 per hour for attorneys doing such work, both in and out of court.
The current fee structure, established in 2003, pays $60 per hour for in-court work and $50 for work done outside the courtroom.
Commissioner Tony Vero told attorneys in March his research indicated Richland County now pays court-appointed attorneys at a rate comparable to other area counties and pays above the state averages for felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile court work.
Since the initial discussion, the State of Ohio has adopted a new budget that increases the state's reimbursement for court-appointed attorneys.
This reimbursement would result in a few hundred thousand dollars to the county's bottom line annually, though it's not known if commissioners plan to pass that increase along to local defense attorneys.