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Commissioners Approve $84,000 Contract for Lab Testing

January 23, 2013

   01/24/13 After discussing their concerns on the Great Lakes Lab contract for 2013 with the County Prosecutor and Sheriff the Marshall County Commissioners approved the agreement during their meeting Monday.

Prosecutor Dave Holmes explained that he had made a presentation to the County Council during budget hearing discussing the reasons for the contract to increase from just over $42,200 to $84,000.  Holmes said there were 547 drug cases in 2012 and they were across the spectrum from meth to cocaine, heroin and marijuana.  Of those 547 cases 182 were submitted for testing.  He said, “We don’t submit everything to Great Lakes for testing at the time of arrest.”  Holmes said they wait to see where the case is going and submit when they feel it is truly needed to prove the case in court.

Michelle Volk from Great Lakes was on hand and presented documentation on the case load from Marshall County.  In 2010 the case load was 33 for Great Lakes while 2011 increased to 89 and 2012 had 182.  She said, “Historically the Marshall County case load was 35 to 50 cases annually.  Since Prosecutor Holmes has come on board we have seen a dramatic increase in the case load as he continues to fight drugs in the county.”

Volk explained the costs involved with testing and said it average $250 to $400 a case and many times they will be testing 4, 5, or maybe 6 items to be entered as exhibits in the court case.  She said commented that the individuals conducting the tests are highly skilled.

Contract rates for Great Lakes Lab haven’t increase in a number of years. Volk said, “I came and talked with the prosecutor and sheriff before sending the contract because I knew it would be complete sticker shock for them.”

Dave Holmes said, “There is a cost associated with trying cases…and Great Lakes Lab has excellent creditability of their testing procedures.”

Sheriff Tom Chamberlin spoke about the issues his department faces with synthetic marijuana.  Although the state has made it illegal, there are still violators. The Sheriff said, “Police officers have field testing capabilities for many drugs, but there is nothing available yet for synthetic marijuana.”

A second issue discussed with the Great Lakes Lab contract was who would pay?  In the past the bill was split between the sheriff and prosecutor.  Since the prosecutor is the one determining what and how many tests they send to the lab the sheriff thought he should pay for it all.  When Chamberlin made his 2013 budget he did not include lab testing.

Prosecutor Holmes did include his half of the new contract price, $42,000 in this year’s budget.  It was determined that the prosecutor will have to approach the County Council for an additional appropriation to cover the cost.

County Commissioner Kevin Overmyer also asked Volk if it was possible to have it be a two year contract so that next year’s contract will be correctly budgeted in the County’s 2014 budget.

Holmes closed the meeting by saying, “We are working to limit our submissions to Great Lakes.”