Commissioners respond to Donini claims
“Be aware of everything that is going on in your organization under your control”
By Bill Shope
The race for a spot on the ballot as the Republican nominee for Sciot County Commissioner is beginning to heat up as the March 17, 2020 primary election date nears. While Cathy Coleman is running unopposed for her spot on the Republican ticket, incumbent Commissioner Mike Crabtree is facing opposition from longtime- Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini for the other spot.
After The Scioto Voice broke the story of Donini’s filing of petitions to be placed on the ballot, the Sheriff, a 24-year veteran of the office, spoke with The Voice regarding his candidacy.
“I am not satisfied with what we have been getting from our County Commissioners,” Donini stated. He went on to say that over the course of his last eight payrolls, the Commissioners had “choked his office to the point where I had to ask for additional appropriations because they have not alloted enough resources to me.”
Earlier this week, the County Commissioners reached out to The Scioto Voice and asked to be able to respond to the assertions coming from Sheriff Donini. The following is a word for word communication from the Commissioner’s currently in office-Bryan davis, Coleman and Crabtree.
“After reading the article mentioned above, the Scioto County Commissioners collectively were “somewhat” surprised by some of the statements made by the retiring Sheriff Marty Donini. We say “somewhat surprised” because we are all too aware of things the Sheriff has said and/or done in the past which has created turmoil with multiple offices and other organizations in our county.”
“On the topic of funding, Sheriff Donini has never liked the way the commissioners have appropriated his budget. It is important to realize he is not the only office holder who is part of this process and is treated equally the same as all office holders. The budget commission made up of the Scioto County Treasurer, Auditor and Prosecutor (note: not the Commissioners) independently review expected revenue figures for the upcoming year and advises or certifies to the Commissioners what can be appropriated.”
“ When you are told you have $16.8 million in anticipated revenue to appropriate, and have over $22 million in budget requests from various departments, the largest portion being the Sheriff’s office, something has to give somewhere. We have chosen to appropriate what we can initially, which covers about 2/3 of the year, and only appropriate what is needed (if any) later once revenues are discovered to be better through an amended certificate. After all, does anyone in the private domain get all 52 weeks of their pay the first week of January.?”
“ Keep this truth in mind, if you appropriate it, the government somehow, will spend it! Additionally, it would seem that if salaries were a big issue to Sheriff Donini, then why in January of 2019, would he ask for an immediate transfer of $32,273.44 out of salaries to provide for other areas? We denied this request citing that salaries should never be touched. He requested another transfer out of the utilities line item. This was granted. It should be noted that a request for an additional $22,420.97 was requested for additional utilities in mid-November. This was an estimate. We appropriated $10,000.00 after looking at his utility bills and projecting actual expenses. (Remember the comment earlier about if you appropriate too much it will get spent?) It is important to note no additional monies were requested for utilities through the remainder of the year.”
“ It is important to also know that Sheriff Donini has been made whole every year. In 2019, we appropriated an additional $872, 253.34 to cover salaries and other needs. In total over $4.33 Million was appropriated in 2019. Nearly 25% of the entire General Fund. In addition to these dollars he had an additional $2 million at his disposal. He was NOT shorted or “cut” to use his language, and his operations were NOT hampered in any way by the commissioners. Staffing and how many cars patrol the county are 100% up to him. He has chosen to misrepresent the facts to serve his political aspirations. Perhaps the Sheriff’s biggest complaint is that he has to have his administrative staff do paperwork to assure funding? All offices do this and the process is smooth and efficient. We make no apologies for adhering to a strict fiscal policy. Sheriff Donini says we should not micro-manage the budget. In business, when you are in a tight budget situation, or in any type of crisis, as an effective manager you ask questions and you make sure you are aware of everything that is going on in your organization under your control. This is what the taxpayers expect. Sheriff Donini mentions carryovers and the MCO off-set funds. He would have us raid these dollars which are considered rainy-day funds and only to be used IF we need them in case of an emergency, to do for him what will not be done for other elected offices. Does this sound like cooperation or does he simply not like being questioned about how he is spending the taxpayers hard earned monies? “
“The Sheriff also makes a very broad statement in regards to helping only certain people in the community, only those involved in the political process. He should cite specific examples instead of making broad slanderous statements of this type. Perhaps the Sheriff hasn’t paid attention to all the great things happening in our community in spite of the increased crime and drug activity. Things like a Splash Pad and enhanced services at Earl Thomas Conley Park, Winterfest, Main Street Portsmouth, the Farmers Market, The River Days Boat Races, the Scioto County Fair & 4H Auction, and many other events the commissioner’s proudly participate in. His statement was reckless.”
“Our efforts to establish a more robust security presence in the courthouse, under a directive from the Ohio Supreme Court, were stalled for months awaiting a bid for more deputies from the Sheriff. Only after he learned Common Pleas Court was actively pursuing the contract did he decide to assist. His bid was excessively high and no firm date could be provided by the Sheriff as to when he could provide the deputies. It was rejected for these reasons. We decided to use Common Pleas Court constables. After this decision was made, and the same day the new court security team started, Sheriff Donini communicated to the Common Pleas court on 1/2/2019 that he had decided to pull the commissions of several Common Pleas Court Bailiffs, including that of Shawn Davis, a former Sheriff candidate and Director of Courthouse Security. To the commissioners and many court personnel, this looked retaliatory in nature. After some urgent work by our Prosecutor this was resolved.”
“We re-established the work release program with our courts after trying to get the Sheriff to do this for over a year. Again, after hearing Common Pleas was pursuing the contract we received a bid from the Sheriff’s office. That bid was rejected due to being excessively high in costs. Does this sound like he is working together with other offices? We found a way to accomplish the required work, he built a wall and moved inmates out of county who could be sentenced to work release. He moved them to other counties due to overcrowding with no advanced notice. He did let the local press know a day in advance of his decision before letting the commissioners know. Does this sound or look like cooperation?”
“In regards to inmate housing, Sheriff Donini cancelled out of county housing contracts without advanced notice. While Scioto County inmates were filling up our jail, and he was justified to do so, this created a particularly bad situation in Pike and Lawrence Counties which created a need for us to communicate the situation effectively with the commissioners in those counties. In addition, the former Juvenile Justice Center on 5th Street has been offered to Sheriff Donini more than once only to be rejected by him. Again, lack of cooperation has not helped this situation.”
“So what have we done for Sheriff Donini over and above the operating budget in recent years? Upon his request, the commissioner’s allocated $400,000.00 for a new NexGen 911 system. The commissioner’s approved labor contracts with raises for all the employees, funded 11 new Sheriff cruisers, approved 9 additional cruisers (after he threatened to sue the commissioners after the commissioners asked questions about the current fleet inventory which is still reported inaccurately), and also provided a maintenance staff for the jail facility at no cost to the Sheriff’s department. But Sheriff Donini simply stated that “he was not satisfied with what we are getting from our county commissioners”. “
“We understand Sheriff Donini is retiring “again” as Sheriff, and now wishes to keep his family on the county’s insurance by becoming a commissioner. It’s a great deal for him and due to the hard work of the current Commissioner Board and county employees our costs have gone down the last two years saving employees and tax payer’s money. This is another great accomplishment and something that is unheard of in today’s volatile healthcare arena.”
“There is one statement Sheriff Donini makes in the article that we do agree with. Sheriff Donini says, “The area’s economy is strong and he expects that aspect to continue, with growth taking place in several locations.” That growth he references is a result of hard work by many. We have worked cooperatively to create economic opportunities, lower the unemployment rate, increase median incomes, create Opportunity and Enterprise zones, build a business park at the airport, work with developers and entrepreneurs, and move our county forward. If you read the article from December, he either doesn’t know what has been accomplished, or he seems to have misrepresented these important details too.”
A response from Sheriff Donini will be forthcoming in next week’s Scioto Voice.
After the March primary, Coleman will face John McHenry, the Democratic nominee in the general election this NOvember, while the winner of the Crabtree and Donini race will oppose Matt Seifert.