By Becky Killian / Managing Editor
Whitley County will file a lawsuit against three banks in order to obtain about $114,000 deposited by the former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge’s office.
The Whitley County Fiscal Court authorized Don Moses, county attorney, to file the lawsuit after Moses gave a report about the accounts during the court’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday.
Moses said he was directed to locate the accounts, which contain some of the prior sheriff’s fee, tax and escrow money. He found four at Forcht Bank, three at First State Financial and six at Community Trust Bank.
Since the sheriff’s administration has changed and those authorized to sign transactions are no longer available to do so, the banks require a court order before they will release the funds.
Judge/Executive Pat White said the accounts have been audited by the state and there is no reason why the county shouldn’t move to retrieve the money. He also said the state auditor’s office will help the county determine how the money should be disbursed.
When asked if the county’s effort to obtain the money in the 13 accounts will hinder its claim to the company that issued Hodge’s bond, Moses said it wouldn’t.
Whitley County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy K.Y. Fuson gave his fourth quarter report to the fiscal court, indicating that the sheriff’s office collected $74,875 in excess fees with more money expected.
By February, Fuson said he expects the total collected will be about $110,448.
Fuson, who explained he had no idea of what income to expect since no accurate history of collections was kept by Hodge’s administration, said the income was “good surprises.”
“Tax collection was good this year,” Fuson said.
Fuson gave the fiscal court a check for $74,875 and asked that it be returned to the sheriff’s department so it can continue to operate until the start of the court’s fiscal year in July. Later in the meeting, an emergency resolution was passed unanimously indicating that the total of more than $110,448 would be returned to the sheriff’s department.
Much of the money came from delinquent taxes, Fuson said.
When asked, Fuson reported that the sheriff’s department is now well-equipped and outlined some of the purchases made in the last year, including Tasers and cars.
The fiscal court approved the first reading of an ordinance that will ban the use of synthetic marijuana, commonly sold as herbal incense or potpourri, in the county. The unanimous vote came after District Judge Cathy Prewitt told the court about the dangers the chemical-laced products pose to people who smoke them.
After an expected second reading in February, the ordinance will pass if approved.
Whitley County Treasurer Jeffrey Gray presented a budget amendment to the fiscal court showing increased income of $195,783. Gray explained the bulk of the money came from open dump and litter abatement grants. The fiscal court approved the amendment.
By Becky Killian / Managing Editor
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