New Kosciusko County Superior Court approved, but funding delayed

Kosciusko County remains on track to establish a new Superior Court, but funding won’t be available from the state for another year.

Instead of winning financial support for the court this year, the county will have to wait until after July 1, 2019, according to Rep. David Wolkins, who co-signed onto the bill in the House.

The bill originally was authored by Sen. Randy Head, a member of the Local Government committee.

This year’s general assembly, which ended Wednesday night, was the second attempt in two years to win approval for an additional court to relieve overcrowding in the local court system.

Wolkins said additional magistrates sought by other counties were added to the bill, making it more expensive to fund.

Wolkins said Sen. Ryan Mishler stood up and blocked efforts to kill the bill because of the lack of funding. The delay in funding appeared to be a compromise.

“A majority of the credit goes to Sen. Mishler. He’s the one who had the power over Rep. Tim Brown. He said, ‘Look, we’re not going to make these guys go through it all again,’” Wolkins said.

County Council President Sue Ann Mitchell said adding a new court has been a year-long process, but in the long term the wait will be worth it.

“We’ve known it was coming, and we hope it will expedite the judicial process and take some of the strain off the jail,” she said. “We’ll have to wait until July 2019, but that’s fine. It’ll give us a chance to get our ducks in a row, so to speak.”

In addition to Kosciusko’s request, the bill approves requests for magistrates in Jefferson, Putnam and Scott counties.

Final votes on the matter by the House and the Senate were unanimous.