District Attorney asks for more funds to improve efficiency
Published 10:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2017
LaGRANGE – The district attorney’s office requested additional funding from the Troup County Commission on Tuesday to cover a third of the salary for an assistant district attorney for the office to help cover the case load, as well as fund the salary of a support staff member.
The city of LaGrange is already covering the other two-thirds of the salary for the proposed attorney for the office that covers the local judicial circuit, which includes Troup County.
“I have kept one ADA position vacant for a year because of funding… this is the ADA that was provided for me by the city of LaGrange,” said District Attorney Peter Skandalakis. “The city of LaGrange has paid two thirds of that ADA’s salary. I have kept that position open so that I can keep my six ADA’s employed, but I am asking you this year to give me the funding, so that I can get a seventh ADA. I’m asking – not for a match – but for one third of that funding so that I can add that ADA to the staff.”
Skadalakis pointed to the types of victims that the DA’s office represents – which includes victims of domestic violence and sexual assault – as both the reasons why those working in his department are so committed to their cause as well as why the commission should approve the funding. In fact, he brought in a 77-page list of victims that his office has covered from 2016 until the day of the budget meeting.
“We produce results,” said Skandalakis. “Year to date we’ve opened in this circuit 1,995 cases. I’m projecting that we are going to open 6,000 cases this year which is an increase of over 600 cases then we did last year. Now in Troup County, we’ve opened year to date 381 cases, and I project we are going to open 1,143 which is an increase of a little bit over 100 cases that we did in 2016. And, I’m doing this with a staff that is underfunded, underpaid and under-resourced, and yet they work their tails off.”
The office reported 12,564 victim contacts so far this year, 436 new cases this year, 442 cases closed this year with some cases carrying over from 2016 and 721 pending cases. According to Skandalakis, Troup County makes up 24 percent of his office’s case load with the office’s six ADAs and seven investigators covering cases for Troup, Carroll, Coweta, Heard and Meriwether Counties. Skandalakis also conveyed plans to request additional ADA’s and support staff from other counties in the circuit. The total cost of the request would be $1,068,982 and $56,462 of those funds would be for the support staff member.
Troup County has been pursuing a split of the circuit for several years in order to ease the cost of helping support the large circuit, but so far the county has been unable to get everybody necessary on board with the plan.
“Every year for the past few years we’ve come up with this pothole – as you might say in the road – and we try to pursue splitting off, and I just don’t understand why,” said Commissioner Morris Jones.
The split would require the support of the judges and legislatures in order to actually take place. Skandalakis was in favor of a split, but said that he does not expect it to occur before he retires. He has been the district attorney for the circuit for the last 26 years.
Skandalakis also refuted claims from the public defender’s office that compared the workloads of the two offices, saying that the comparison was like comparing “apples to oranges.”
The Troup County Board of Commissioners plans to review all funding requests at their meeting on May 4 at p.m. at 100 Ridley Ave when they also plan to discuss how to fund a recommended employee pay increase.
Reach Alicia B. Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.