LAGRANGE - A showdown is looming over the use of funds from LaGrange County’s infraction deferral program.
The program allows motorists to avoid points on their drivers license for certain infractions by completing the requirements of the program which includes paying a fee.
For the past several years those funds were used to equip and train law enforcement personnel and the prosecutor’s staff.
LaGrange County Technology Director Bob Murphy asked the County Council this morning to fund the purchase of a new system to record interviews at the sheriff’s department at a cost of nearly $24,000.
But Murphy and Sheriff Terry Martin say the prosecutor isn’t interested in spending deferral funds on the project.
"I personally think this would be an excellent use for the infraction deferral however I couldn't get much interest out of the prosecutor on this project so that's why I'm here talking to you today," said Murphy.
"We also had the detectives go down and talk to him. I won't tell you what he said, but he said no," added the sheriff.
Prosecutor Jeffrey Wible tells us he has two concerns: that the infraction deferral fund might have to bear the cost of a new $25,000 grinder system for the jail; and that there may be a better, more durable recording system than the one Murphy and Martin want.
Wible also noted that Martin has not said one word to him about the request.
Councilman Mike Strawser appeared ready to use the deferral program funds without the prosecutor’s blessing.
"Can we put an additional appropriation on the meeting for next month out of infraction deferral and we can approve it?" Strawser asked.
Commissioner President Jac Price said he is awaiting word from the county attorney regarding the procedure.
The council approved Strawser’s motion to put the additional appropriation from the deferral program on next month’s council agenda.
Whether there will even be an infraction deferral fund next year is in question according to Martin.
"Well if the new prosecutor, if he wins in the fall, I don't think you're going to have that program, is my understanding. So I don't think that fund is going to be available after the first of the year," Martin said.
Wible told us he’s not interested in having a so-called “fire sale” with remaining infraction deferral funds.