Add-On
Agenda Item # 9

Columbus Consolidated Government
Council Meeting

10/23/2018

Agenda Report # 47


TO: Mayor and Council

SUBJECT: 2018-2019 Additional VOCA Grants

INITIATED BY: Solicitor General - Victim-Witness Assistance Program


Recommendation: Approval is requested to approve an application for additional VOCA Grants for the Solicitor General’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program. There would be four grant applications: one for the salary of a Victim Advocate Investigator (in the amount of $49,260.86), or otherwise awarded, second for a Domestic Violence Assistant Solicitor (in the amount of $67,209.07) or otherwise awarded. Third a salary supplement for a program director (in the amount of $12,000), or otherwise awarded, and fourth for additional operating expenses (in the amount of $6,000), or otherwise awarded. This grant would create new positions in the Office of the Solicitor General Victim-Witness Assistance Program and the salary and benefits of said positions would be fully funded pursuant to said grant. The grants would be budget neutral for the Columbus Consolidated Government.

Action Requested:

(a) Approval is requested to authorize the Solicitor General/Victim-Witness Assistance Program to submit and, if approved, accept an additional Federal VOCA Grant of $134,469.93 or otherwise awarded from the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council; and,

(b) Approval is requested to create the new positions of Victim Advocate Investigator and Domestic Violence Assistant Solicitor, Salary Supplement for program director in the Office of the Solicitor General Victim-Witness Assistance Program, with the salary and benefits of said position to be fully funded pursuant to said grant and said position contingent upon receipt of future grant funding in subsequent federal fiscal years; and,

(c) Approval is also requested to authorize the Solicitor General/Victim-Witness Assistance Program to submit and, if approved, accept an additional Federal VOCA Grant of $6,000 or otherwise awarded from the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to help defray operating expenses of the Victim Assistance Office.

Background: The Office of the Solicitor General operates a Crime Victim Assistance Program and has been awarded a Federal Victims of Crime Act Assistance Grant Program (hereinafter referred to as “VOCA”) grant for approximately 20 years. We are requesting additional VOCA funding to provide for a much-needed additional personnel such as a Victim Advocate Investigator and a Domestic Violence Attorney.

We currently have two (2) Victim Advocates and a Director. We cannot cover all the courts necessary to supply adequate services to our victims, properly investigate as needed and prosecute the cases at its fullest. We currently are responsible for covering 18 court sessions per week, (including State Court, Recorder’s Court, and Municipal Court). We provide well over 6,000 Victim Services per quarter, which doubled in the last year. We do not have enough personnel to cover all these court sessions, investigate each case, initiate contact with victims earlier in the criminal justice process, conduct adequate education and community outreach, and prosecute cases to the fullest.

The Solicitor General requests approval of this grant application to create a new, full time Victim Advocate Investigator position using the said grant money to fund the position at a salary of $36,552 with benefits as follows: FICA $2,796; Health $5,800; Life $183; GG Retirement $3,929; TOTAL $49,260.86. Domestic Violence Assistant Solicitor using the said grant money to fund the position at a salary of $ 51,648 with benefits as follows: FICA $3,951; Health $5,800; Life $258; GG Retirement $5,552; TOTAL $67,209.07. Salary supplement for victim service Director; TOTAL $12,000. Volunteer hours will be used to meet the matching requirement of said grant.

Additionally, we are requesting $6,000 or otherwise awarded for operating expenses to assist the Solicitor General/Victim-Witness Assistance Program.

Analysis: The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council has allocated additional VOCA Grant Funding. Such grants must be submitted by November 5, 2018. The Solicitor General’s Office has been encouraged by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia to submit applications for this additional grant money.

Projected Annual Fiscal Impact Statement: There will be no annual fiscal impact as a result of awarding this grant. The Victim Advocate Investigator position's salary would be $36,552, plus benefits. The Domestic Violence Assistant Solicitor position salary would be $51,648, plus benefits, which will be fully funded by the grant. Program Director salary supplement of $12,000. Funding in subsequent years will be contingent upon subsequent grant funding. The $6,000 additional operating expenses will help obtain the training that will be needed and cover additional operating expenses.

Legal Considerations: Georgia Law requires the Solicitor General provide extensive services, information, and notification to crime victims pursuant to O.C.G.A. Section 17-17-1 (Crime Victims' Bill of Rights). The Solicitor General is solely and directly responsible for complying with this law as mandated by the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. The need for a Victim Advocate Investigator to gather information earlier in the criminal justice process, essentially prior to or at the defendant’s first appearance in state court, is greatly needed. The addition of this Victim Advocate investigator position as well as the Domestic Violence Assistant Solicitor will greatly enhance our ability to serve our community's misdemeanor crime victims.

Recommendations/Actions:

A RESOLUTION
NO. ______

A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE SOLICITOR GENERAL TO ACCEPT A VOCA GRANT AWARD OF $134,469.93 OR AS OTHERWISE AWARDED. WITH AN IN-KIND LOCAL MATCH OF $26,894 TO OPERATE THE SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VICTIM WITNESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FROM OCTOBER 1, 2018 TO SEPTEMBER 30, 2019. AMEND THE MULTI GOVERNMENTAL FUND 0216 TO REFLECT THESE REVENUE AND EXPENSE.

WHEREAS, the Solicitor-General designed a Victim Witness Assistance Program in 1997, which specially address the needs of misdemeanor crime victims; and,

WHEREAS, the funds are requested to finance personnel and budget of the Solicitor-General’s Victim Witness Assistance Program to provide services mandated by Georgia Law; and,

WHEREAS, the Solicitor-General is requesting the acceptance of a $134,469.93 or as otherwise awarded Federal Grant Award for salary and benefits; and,

WHEREAS, if accepted, Federal grant monies will reimburse the City for salary, and benefits for the excluding applicable Federal and State taxes.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES;

That the City Manager is hereby authorized to accept a Grant funds for the Solicitor General’s Victim/Witness Assistance program from VOCA, a Federal grant, Amend the Multi Governmental Fund (0216) to reflect the revenue and expenses.


_________________

Introduced at a regular Meeting of Council of Columbus, Georgia, held the 23rd day of October 2018, and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ____ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.

Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Garrett voting _____________.
Councilor House voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.




___________________________________ __________________________
Lindsey Glisson, Deputy Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor