Banks asks for bigger bucks in 2016 budget request

The county’s prosecuting attorney is seeking 2016 budget hikes far higher than those of some other departments, according to documents presented to the Board of Island County Commissioners this week and last during budget workshops.

The county’s prosecuting attorney is seeking 2016 budget hikes far higher than those of some other departments, according to documents presented to the Board of Island County Commissioners this week and last during budget workshops.

The prosecutor, Greg Banks, estimated his department’s 2016 expenditures at $2.07 million, up $532,300 or 34 percent, from this year’s budgeted expenses.

In contrast, for example, the clerk’s office is seeking an increase of only 3 percent, to $555,950 from $535,600. The coroner is seeking an increase of 2 percent, to $280,800 from $275,200. The county’s 15 departments continue to present their 2016 budgets at preliminary workshops continuing through Friday.

The sheriff’s office might also request a major increase, though that won’t be clear until a report on the county jail has been received at the end of September, said county Budget Director Elaine Marlow.

“If we don’t consider jails, (Banks’ budget) is probably the highest increase,” Marlow said.

Banks’ office appears to be trying to compensate for salary shortfalls revealed earlier this month in a study. That study “didn’t come as a surprise to me — it was welcome news to the people in my office,” Banks said Friday at a budget workshop. “I know we’re pretty far down there in terms of what our attorneys get paid.”

But he added Monday that he won’t be shocked if he gets less than he’s asked for.

“It seems like I’m asking for the moon,” he said in an interview. “I’d be pleasantly surprised if all the recommended salary increases were approved. I was trying to give (the commissioners) the full picture of what’s needed.”

Under his 2016 proposed budget, every current employee except Banks himself is slated to get a raise of between $3,238 and $10,440, for a total of $87,880. These increases appear on a worksheet under the heading “salary survey potential.”

Banks’ office in 2016 is also seeking an additional 3.5 full-time employees (budgeted at $252,885) and salary increases for existing employees ($110,320). He wants $139,000 in termination payouts, in case employees leave during 2016, and $7,250 for increases in operations.

Among the new employees the prosecutor’s office wants are a full-time civil paralegal, a full-time civil deputy prosecutor and a full-time criminal investigator. The office also wants to make a paralegal-receptionist a full-time employee rather than a half-time worker.

Apart from salary survey-related increases, four attorneys are slated to get a raise next year of between $4,330 and $5,640 each, and a deputy prosecuting attorney could get a raise of $3,550.

The salary survey, released earlier this month by the county’s human resources director, showed that remuneration in the prosecutor’s office tends to be below average.

A deputy prosecutor II position, which is an attorney with some level of experience, has a midpoint salary of $32.88 an hour. The midpoint salary in comparable counties is $38.52. That’s a difference of nearly $12,000 a year.

Both the chief criminal prosecuting attorney and the chief civil prosecuting attorney make between $3 and $4 less an hour than their colleagues in other counties. The senior paralegal salary midpoint is $19.22 an hour, while the midpoint is $25.03.

More detailed budget workshops, all of them open to the public, will continue through November, said Marlow, the budget director. A public hearing on the final budget is scheduled for Dec. 7. By law, the commissioners must adopt the 2016 budget by Dec. 31, Marlow said.

 

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