Commissioners approve another attorney for prosecutor’s office

The Grays Harbor County Prosecuting Attorney’s office will receive the funding to hire an additional deputy prosecuting attorney following a 2-1 approval from the county commissioners.

The position will cost more than $4,800 per month. For 2016, the position will cost the county about $27,000 (prorated because the position is being hired late in the year). In 2017, the position will cost the county more than $83,000, which includes benefits.

A request to hire had come before the commissioners during the morning meeting on Aug. 29. Initially, Commissioner Frank Gordon had asked to postpone any decision until the commissioners could speak with Grays Harbor County Prosecuting Attorney Katie Svoboda.

Svoboda had asked for the position before the recently approved three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase was placed on primary ballots. Because that sales tax increase could be used to fund, at least partially, the additional deputy prosecuting attorney, Svoboda offered to wait until the election was over to request the position.

On Monday, Gordon asked if the position was new or a replacement.

“We had this, but then in 2015, when I gave back $100,000 to the general fund, I said I wouldn’t ask to have that position filled. The resolution, didn’t eliminate that position, but it didn’t get carried over to (the 2016) budget,” Svoboda said. “It is a new position in that it’s not in my budget right now, but it, historically, has been a position we’ve had filled.”

Gordon moved to approve the position, citing the Prosecuting Attorney’s current workload.

“They’re buried. Stuff is so far behind that I think it’s hurting the wheels of justice,” Gordon said.

“You did vote against a budgeted position in her office about a month ago,” Commissioner Wes Cormier pointed out.

“I did, and she explained to me why this here was needed, and I was comfortable with it,” Gordon responded.

Svoboda said the position wouldn’t be superfluous.

“I truthfully could probably use two or three additional attorneys and could give them full case loads,” she said.

While the sales tax increase was approved by voters, the county and cities (they split the revenue 60 percent and 40 percent respectively) currently are not collecting the tax.

Commissioner Wes Cormier said he preferred to wait to fill positions until the county starts collecting the tax.

Both Gordon and Commissioner and Chairwoman Vickie Raines voted to approve the position. Cormier voted against the motion.

The commissioners also unanimously approved hiring a commercial/industrial property appraiser position for $4,852 to $5,719 per month, depending on the experience of the candidate hired. That position will fill a vacancy.

During the afternoon meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution to create a “public safety sales tax fund” to hold revenue generated by the sales tax when the county begins receiving those funds. The commissioners said the separate fund will help with transparency to show how the funds are used.

Also on Aug. 29, a budget transfer of $300,000 from the Aberdeen landfill post-closure fund was approved for ongoing improvements at the Mike Murphy Pavilion at Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds.

Due to Labor Day, there will be no commission meeting on Sept. 5.