During the meeting, the council conducted the second reading of an ordinance, which would have created a Prosecutor's Discretionary Fund.
The fund would have collected payment offsets through community service programs, along with a newly proposed option of allowing first-time offenders, who committed a single non-violent, non-victim misdemeanor crime, to buyout their community service time at a price of $10 per hour.
At its April meeting, the council voted 4-2-1 to accept the first reading, but after a month to think about it, some council members changed their minds.
"I think this would be sending the wrong message to the community," council member Chip Hoskins said. "No matter how minute the offense, I don't think it is right that they could pay their way out of it."
Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger said the buyout option would probably bring in more funding to the county than what is being done currently regarding fines.
"The judges rarely go above the $10 minimum fine upon convictions, which has to be paid along with the $164 in court costs," he said. "With the buyout, if an offender pays for 16 hours of community service that they have been sentenced to serve, that would be $160 brought in, along with the cost of going through pre-trial diversion."
Council member Rita Rothrock added, after much thought on the matter, creating additional funding for the county would be a benefit.
"If we can collect something from the offenders through community service, whether it be from sweeping the streets or funding from a buyout, it helps the county," she said.
Council member Brian Wyndham said he had spoken to Reberger in detail about the fund and buyout, but disagreed with the rate and the potential of getting out of the entirety of service.
"Maybe we could make it where offenders could only buyout half of their community service, or we could increase the rate to where it makes an impact on them," Wyndham said. "However, most of the residents I have spoke to seem to be against it, and have a moral objection to the buyout."
"We're all aware that the case load in the courts has grown a ton in the past 10 years," Council President Mike McCullough added. "But, I'm just not sure if this would be the best thing for the taxpayers."
Rothrock made a motion to approve the creation of the Prosecutor's Discretionary Fund, which was seconded by Larry Moss, but they were the only two in favor of passage as the other five council members -- Hoskins, Wyndham, McCullough, Toni Carter and Steve Withers -- voted in opposition, killing the motion and ordinance.
The next meeting of the Clay County Council will be 6 p.m., Monday, June 6, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.