2012-12-15 / Editorials & Letters

Legal fees are eating up Kirkersville’s budget

Editor:

As I stated in last week’s letter, Kirkersville Village Solicitor Brian Zets has several legal “helpers” – some are paralegals and some are attorneys. Most frequently used in Kirkersville in addition to Brian Zets (at $130 per hour), are Jennifer Croghan ($130 per hour) and Kelli Lady ($85 per hour).

I left off with “A date on Zet’s Kirkersville invoice in January, 2012 shows that Croghan spent .20 hour on a phone call with Mayor Ashcraft regarding the cruiser purchase...the cruiser being purchased from Minerva Park where Croghan was the legal advisor for Minerva Park at the same time. Four days later, Zet’s invoice shows that he (Zets) also spent .20 of an hour to “correspond with Mayor Ashcraft to answer his questions and discuss several issues including purchasing a cruiser from Minerva Park.”

Minerva Park’s ordinance to sell the cruiser to Kirkersville (for $7500) was passed as an emergency. A Minerva Park council member questioned why this resolution was being passed as an emergency. The explanation was, “Kirkersville Police Department needed to expedite the transaction to meet their department’s needs.” Kirkersville Council passed the ordinance to BUY the cruiser as an emergency. AND...In addition to Jennifer Croghan being one of Zets’ “helpers” in Kirkersville, (and was the legal advisor for Minerva Park at the time of the purchase of the cruiser), it appears that she is also the Minerva Park Mayor’s Court Prosecutor.

One month BEFORE hiring Zets’ assistant, Kelli(e) Lady, as the mayors court clerk in Kirkersville, Zets told council that “in order to help keep the costs down, his one assistant, Kellie (Lady), does a great job running himself and the Chief too. She does a lot of the work, simple motions and such, so he has her doing most of the work and he basically just shows up at court when Kelli tells him to. It seems to be working well.”

Remember this was the month BEFORE she was being considered as the mayor’s court clerk. The following month (March) when Mayor Ashcraft announced that he had an application from her to be the mayor’s court clerk, Zets stated that she would be a good fit for the job and made the comment “you have to look at her completely independent as to what they do as solicitor or with the police department. He does not want there to be confusion or a blurring of line with her working in his office as his assistant and all that they do.” Confusion and “blurring of line” is created when the ‘description of services’ is hidden from the public.

In addition to Zets being Kirkersville’s solicitor, he is also the solicitor for Thornville, Thurston, Greenfield, and Shawnee Hills (where Kirkersville’s Fiscal Officer Shirley Roskoski is also Fiscal Officer). Zets’ total charges (Mayor’s Court and General Services which include legal services for Kelli Lady and Jennifer Croghan) to Kirkersville are: June- $4692; July- $3750; August-$5085; September-$4767.

Despite repeated warnings about spending (over the past few months) from Fiscal Officer Roskoski and Council member Paglione, on August 1, 2012, Kirkersville council hired a new Magistrate, Kevin Shannon. This was done by ordinance and passed as an emergency. Before passing the ordinance, Shirley (Roskoski) told council that she was very concerned about the cost of this contract. “Mayor Ashcraft said we will try it for a month or so and we will change it if the cost is too high.” After the ordinance was approved by a 6-0 vote, Council member Raines asked Shirley why she was so concerned about the cost of the Magistrate. She said, “We were paying Kelly Roth (former magistrate) $250 per court and we dropped it to once a month due to the cost. Kevin Shannon’s cost is $400 per court session and it will be twice a month.”

Bonnie Mansfield
Buckeye Lake

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