Columbus Consolidated Government Council Meeting
Agenda Report #_____
Subject: Salary Adjustments for District Attorney Victim-Witness Personnel
Initiated by: District Attorney/Victim-Witness Assistance Program
Recommendation: Approval is requested to authorize reclassifications which results in salary increases for 3 salaried positions in the District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program Office utilizing funding from the 5% Crime Victim Surcharge Funds effective September 24, 2016 as there is 5% Crime Victim Surcharge Funds available for the District Attorney in the amount of $438,065.65 as of June 30, 2016 (before audit).
Background: In July of 1989, the Office of the District Attorney began operating a Crime Victim Assistance Program. In October of 1992, the Victim-Witness Assistance Program was awarded the first Crime Victim Assistance Grant, thereby broadening the program for the provision of basic services. In July of 1995, additional funds were received from the 5% Crime Victim Surcharge Fund, thus allowing the program to expand services to all 6 counties throughout the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. Successful grant allocations have sustained the program and the office currently employs a Director and 7.5 Victim Advocates. 70% of the 5% Crime Victim Surcharge collected from the counties within the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit is allocated to the District Attorney’s program per Ordinance No. 03-37.
Analysis: The Victim-Witness Assistance Program provides services to all crime victims in the 5 outlying counties and in Muscogee County to all felony crime victims. Through the years, we have struggled to adequately serve all victims as our Circuit staffed 2 Superior Court Judges. In January 2015, the circuit grew to staff 7 Superior Court Judges and the impact has been profound upon our office. Advocates who used to serve one Judge now serve 2 with double the work and often conflicting schedules. We are all being asked to do much more than our job descriptions such as being a legal secretary and acting as an investigator on a daily basis. Our pay scales pale in comparison to other circuits of our size; yet we are asking more and more of our staff. We have received notice that our grant paid advocates will receive a 3% raise in FY18 and we must make the effort now to offset the disparity in salary that has existed for years. The District Attorney is requesting pay step progression for three salaried positions which results in an annual increase in the amount of $13,367.95 from the 5% Crime Victim Surcharge Funds. The total amount of $13,367.95 represents the increase of salary and benefits for the 3 positions listed below.
Crime Victim Witness: Two Pay Steps Increase for Mildred Cook; Job Title: Victim Advocate Position; Pay Grade/Salary: G14D to G14F - $36,367.06 to $38,208.14
Crime Victim Witness: Two Pay Steps Increase for Sherry Jackson; Job Title: Victim Advocate Position; Pay Grade/Salary: G14A to G14C - $33,770.42 to $35,480.05
Crime Victim Witness: Seven Pay Steps Increase for Shelly Hall Job Title: Victim Advocate Director; Pay Grade/Salary: G18A to G18H - $41,145.98 to $48,909.65
Financial Considerations: The salary increases that will be effective September 24, 2016 only results in an additional increase in the amount $10,283.03 for the remainder of FY17 and $13,367.95 annually in future budget years. There is 5% Crime Victim Surcharge Funds available for the District Attorney in the amount of $438,065.65 as of June 30, 2016 (before audit).
Legal Considerations: Georgia Law requires the District Attorney provide extensive services, information and notification to crime victims. (O.C.G.A.-17-17-1) The District Attorney is solely and directly responsible for complying with this law as mandated by the Victims’ Bill of Rights. Legislature acknowledges that this mandate places additional burdens on prosecutors and have designed laws enabling utilization of the 5% Crime Victim Surcharge Fund to assist in easing said burdens which was confirmed by Council with the approval of Ordinance No. 03-37.
Recommendations/Actions: Approve an ordinance which will reclassify the three positions.