BY SUSAN VELA
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON -- Kenton County officials aren't ready to give up a fight for more than $1 million in child support incentive funds.
But their avenues to recoup money former Kenton County Attorney John Elfers amassed for child support collections are narrowing. On Friday, the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed Special Judge John Minton Jr.'s ruling in 1997 that Mr. Elfers was correct in believing federal incentive money came to him personally, not to his office as county attorney.
"Where most county attorneys took the bonus money yearly, John Elfers allowed the funds to accumulate so that when he left office, there was a considerable amount of money," said Judge Wilfrid A. Schroder of Covington.
"The new county attorney and a new fiscal court didn't like what they saw and took issue. (But) legally, the federal government, the Cabinet, the fiscal court and the county all performed their agreement, paid their bills and the matter is over."
The money -- $1,151,027 including interest -- was amassed by Mr. Elfers from a federal incentive program that offered money for child support collections. It remains in an interest-bearing account held by the circuit court clerk.
Kenton County has contended that Mr. Elfers was entitled to only $256,788. The $1.15 million included money from application fees people paid to have their child support collected, interest and a 3 percent fee levied against each case that Mr. Elfers shouldn't have been entitled to, county officials have said.
The dispute has been going on since Mr. Elfers left office in 1993. It was the year he lost an election to Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmonson.
Mr. Edmonson said Friday that he and Kenton County Fiscal Court members will meet soon and decide whether to appeal Judge Minton's decision at the state Supreme Court level.
But state Supreme Court justices will have a choice about whether to hear the appeal. Another possible avenue is a settlement, Mr. Edmonson said.
He was disappointed to hear the State Court of Appeals supported Judge Minton's decision.
"I thought they would see the light," Mr. Edmonson said.
Defense attorney Robert Carran has argued that Mr. Elfers did only what Kenton Fiscal Court members allowed. Mr. Elfers could not be reached Friday.
He also faces a misdemeanor charge of mixing public and private funds. "