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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lawrence County Prosecutor Warns Lawrence County Council with possible Mandate

LAWRENCE COUNTY - AUGUST 25, 2022 - The budget hearings for Lawrence County elected officials and department heads have begun for the 2023 budget cycle.

Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II presents his 2023 budget

Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II warned the Lawrence County Council of issuing a possible mandate for salaries of Deputy Prosecutors and staff on Thursday night.

Over the last couple years, Judges, Prosecuting Attorney, Public Defenders agencies have been battling the county council for better wages of its personnel.

" I have been conservative with my budget over the last couple of years, but if the trend continues, I will issue you a mandate for my budget," Arp told the council members Thursday night.

The term parity and mandates have been a common term used by Judicial branch of government over the last couple of years.

On December 29th retiring Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge William Sleva issued a mandate for his staff to get better wages. That issue was resolved when Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Bob Cline offered a solution to resolve the matter without costing Lawrence County taxpayers' astronomical amount of money.

The term parity has been used among the Lawrence County Public Defender's office when the Indiana Public Defenders Commission says the two offices must have parity with the Prosecutor's office.

In this year's budget cycle, the Lawrence County Chief Public Defender Tim Sledd requested a $1.4 Million budget.

In the year's budget cycle, the Lawrence County Prosecutor's office has requested a budget of $544,819.

The Prosecutor's office is staffed by the Prosecutor, Chief Deputy Prosecutor, and 4 deputy prosecuting attorneys. One attorney is also staffed in the 4-D office to handle child support cases. The prosecutor's office has a support staff of five.

The Public Defender's office proposed staffing levels includes Chief Public Defender, Chief Deputy, three full-time deputies, and four part-time public defenders and a support staff of five.

By the Indiana Public Defender's Commission, the public defenders can only be assigned 125 cases each. Prosecutor Arp told the county council there is no such restriction placed on the prosecutor's office.

" We must handle every case," Arp told the council members Thursday night.

According to Arp his office in 2021 handled 1,407 criminal cases, and 588 infraction cases. This would make a total of 1,995 cases in 2021.

The contractual labor for the Lawrence County's public defender's office soared up to $217,244 in 2021.

Lawrence County Chief Public Defender Timothy Sledd

In an official opinion of from Attorney General Steve Carter in 2002 stated that

  • The prosecuting attorney is an independent official of the circuit, or the state, and the county

  • The prosecuting attorney is the employer of the prosecutor's deputies and retains the right to control the term and conditions of their employment

  • The county is obligated to provide the prosecutor with the necessary funds to operate the office, but this obligation does not carry with it the right to dictate the terms and conditions of employment within the office

  • It would not be an " improper approval of a payroll claim" if the county processed a payroll claim for a deputy prosecuting attorney whose terms of employment were inconsistent with the terms of employment of county employees.

The county is reimbursed 40 percent through the Indiana Public Defenders commission if they are in compliance with the standards of the commission.

The county is reimbursed 60 percent of the cost of 4D through the Lawrence County Prosecutor's office.

Lawrence County Council members are currently conducting hearings with a proposed 5 percent salary increase for all county employees.

However, there is expected to be cuts made to several elected offices and department head budgets before the final budget hearing to be held on October 8, 2022.

The Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to update subscribers as the budget process unfolds.

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