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© 2019 by Lumberton Ledger

Hardin Co. conducts budget workshop for FY2020

July 10, 2019


Hardin County Commissioners convene budget workshop

​The Hardin County Commissioners convened the first of several budget workshops on the FY2020 Budget.
​Seems growing pains are stretching the county’s budget in several significant departments.
​Three such departments asking for budget adjustments are the District Attorney’s Office, the County Attorney’s CPS Office, and the Sheriff’s Office.
​The commissioners study the preliminary requests and will revisit the department information in follow-up hearings.
​Hardin County’s FY2019 Budget is available online for public review at the Hardin County Website.
​On Monday, District Attorney David Sheffield asked for funding to hire an additional clerk for the office.
​“We are at a point where neither technology nor volunteers can make up and fulfill the needs of the clerks,” he said.
​Two clerks currently handle the office and two busy district courts with simultaneous dockets.
​Sheffield says the amount of work effectively shuts his office down, overworks personnel, contributes to mistakes, and causes frustration.
​“When you are at at a pressure point like we are having, you’re going to cause havoc unless we do something,” the district attorney said.
​An entry-level legal clerk is paid roughly $16.50 per hour. Sheffield also asked for a $3,000 increase in trial preparation monies, $3,500 in training fees, and an increase in the office’s investigator’s pay.
​He closed saying the caseload in the coming year is “getting very serious cases coming up for jury trial.”
​Another case-related increase for budget funding came from the County Attorney’s Office, Child Protective Services program.
​Assistant County Attorney Matt Minick to add a public defender to cover the increased caseload facing the department.
​“We were averaging around 36 kids in (foster) care in 2017, we are now averaging over 100 kids in care,” he said.
​Minick says the jump in care is statewide, not merely Hardin County, but “our caseload has gone insane.”
​This affects everyone in the court system from the judges to the bailiffs to the clerks and defense attorneys. He asked to double the whole CPS budget.
​Facing an increased caseload, the loss of CASA as their funding reduced, and the added expense of a private guardian ad litem, Minick asked the commissioners for help.
​Looking over the numbers, Judge McDaniel determined to put the request back on agenda for the next hearing when County Attorney Rebecca Walton could inform the court.
​The Hardin County Sheriff’s Department asked for several line items to be increased and others to be decreased.​
​On Monday, July 8, he was asking for additional staff for the jail and a dispatcher.
​“State standards mandate that we have one jailer for every 48 inmates we have,” Sheriff Mark Davis said.
​The jail currently operates with five jailers and one controller, or the full-staff when there are as many as 145 inmates on the first floor.
​“The more inmates go up in number, the more staff we are going to need,” he said, asking for two additional jailers at roughly $60,058 per year.
​Also, crunched by increased growth are dispatchers at the 911 Call Center for Hardin County.
​They currently handle 46,000 calls for service between six employees and two supervisors and the calls keep increasing.
​“The traffic count is up, the crash count is up,” Davis said, saying other agencies will roll their phone calls for assistance will come to the county.
​The projected cost for a dispatcher is $65,000 as a trainer operator has to handle medical triage to help before the ambulance keeps there.


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