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.