County approves Prosecutor’s Office request for more funds

Friday, July 5, 2024

The Clay County Prosecutor’s Office is in urgent need of additional help, as their caseload has seen a significant and rapid increase. Prosecutor Emily Clarke has noted that while the number of public defenders has doubled, prosecutors are still working with the same number of staff, despite the increased workload. The Clay County Council has responded to this pressing issue by approving additional appropriations of $120,943. These funds will be used to increase the deputy prosecutor’s salary and hire additional staff, a request that was previously tabled in May.

“When I started as a PD, there were two PDs in each court, and now we’re up to at least four in each court. The prosecutor’s staff has never increased, and our caseload continues to increase,” said Clarke. “We’re to the point where we really need extra help and to raise our salary at a competitive rate.”

Clarke further explained that the wage discrepancy in Clay County has led to the loss of prosecutors to other areas. This issue has significantly impacted the Prosecutor’s Office, making it crucial to address the need for competitive salaries to retain and attract skilled prosecutors.

“We have to be competitive. I’m personally in favor of doing this; quite honestly, this has been asked. She’s the second prosecutor to ask for this,” explained president Larry Moss.

The Clay County Substance Abuse Council’s drug-free community grant renewal was passed for $35,975. The substance abuse council partners with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Clay County Schools, and Hamilton Center to educate and reduce alcohol and drug abuse. The funds are used to prevent and reduce drug and alcohol abuse through county-wide education and prevention. One of the most popular programs is Red Ribbon Week and March to the courthouse.

The council agreed that all companies, some of which are in partnership with the city of Brazil, were in compliance with their tax abatements for 2024-2025.

“Every company that has done a tax abatement has not only met the objectives that they had, but they went above and beyond them. The amount of payroll we have collected based upon the projections is exceeding it by 40, 50% above their projections,” said Moss. “The abatement process for these manufacturers has been very effective.”

Clay County collects income tax, so an increase in employees and wages benefits all county taxpayers.

“We also offset about 60% of our property taxes with a tax credit through the income tax. A lot of people don’t know that. That’s 75% of the income tax we collect goes to offset property taxes, and that’s why we’re so low on property taxes.”

In other business, the council approved:

The auditor’s stipend of $2,500 for additional work. Auditor Patti Foxx has worked on Clay County’s Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant since October 2023 and is in the third level of the grant process.

The $1,000 reimbursable court interpreter grant. The grant helps offset the costs of a certified interpreter for court proceedings.

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