The addition of a new secretary for the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office appears to depend on a recommendation from the county commissioners, after the county council was once again unable to reach a clear consensus Monday.
Prosecutor Dan Murphy has been asking for a new staff member, citing a significant increase in the number of cases being filed, along with the addition of new court programs. “In addition to the actual numbers of filings that we’re doing, there have been a couple changes,” Murphy told council members Monday. “We’ve gone to this electronic case filing which, in theory, is supposed to make everything so much simpler and is a mess. Every time you file a document, you end up getting emails back. We get about 200 emails each day, just on cases that are pending.”
Council members held off on a decision last month and then discussed the request with Murphy for another 15 minutes Monday. But when it came to a vote, council members ended up in a three-to-three tie. Mike Tiede, Kathi Thompson, and Brian Young voted in favor, while Rudy DeSabatine, Scott Hinkle, and Council President Jay Sullivan opposed. Ken Boswell was absent.
Sullivan asked Murphy to go to the commissioners for a recommendation, before council members revisit the issue again next month. “When we had our budget hearings before and you’d asked for this individual, I think it was left at the approval of the commissioners,” Sullivan said. “If the commissioners recommend a person to be hired, then the council would entertain that idea, but you would need to take off a big portion of your part-time help that you had in there for your office. That’s the conversation as I remember.” But Murphy reminded council members that he typically uses the part-time help line item to pay summer interns to help scan old files.
However, Thompson’s motion to add the new position also included the advertisement of an additional appropriation to fund it. “I don’t know about you guys but if I’m sitting in an office doing work, I’m not going to be able to absorb 164 percent more work, plus whatever else is coming down the pike,” she said.
Murphy noted that while the positions in his office are typically set at 35 hours per week, his employees now typically work 40 to 45 hours, to keep up with the workload.