Here it is, the latest round in the ongoing battle between the area county commissioners and Presiding Circuit Judge Russell Steele. Judge Steele will have to defend his judicial budget before a state budget commission, because the Adair County commission filed a dispute over funding amounts and set aside about $330,000 in contested revenue and the juvenile justice center’s half-million dollar reserve. According to a state filing, the commissioners take issue with dozens of line item appropriations within the Second Judicial Circuit’s budget and especially focused on juvenile operations and the Juvenile Justice Center.
The fight arrived at the state level after weeks of discussions and meetings between the county commissioners from Knox, Lewis and Adair counties and Steele. The petition process allows Steele until next Wednesday to respond. County Commissioners say the state should be supporting the program rather than shifting burden to the counties. According to their attorney, Adair and Lewis counties have filed individual petitions for review with the finance commission. Knox County did not file such a request, he said, because they don’t really spend much money to support the center.
For Adair County, the petition claims there is about $330,000 in appropriations contained within Steele’s budget request that the commissioners don’t believe they’re obligated to pay. They also question the planning and budgeting for not only the circuit’s finances but also its juvenile justice operations.