By JIM MAURER
Citing an increasing caseload, Hancock County Prosecutor Phillip Riegle asked the county commissioners for additional funding for his staff during a meeting Monday.
Adult felonies have increased from about 350 to more than 500 adult cases annually, Riegle said, and the three prosecutors are handling about 120 adult cases each.
In other counties, the average is about 50-75 cases per attorney, he said.
He requested additional compensation for his employees, who have received an 8 percent increase since 2017. He didn’t specify the amount of increase he is seeking.
Riegle said attorneys at the public defender’s office, which handles cases for defendants who can’t afford an attorney, have received about 47 percent increase in pay since 2017. State grants provide some funding for the public defender’s office.
The commissioners did not agree to providing additional funds.
Riegle said he would petition the county courts’ judges, as allowed by state law, about funding for his department.
“I know you have budgetary concerns,” he said. “I’m not here to throw anyone under the bus.”
He said he is “trying to be reasonable” about a request for additional compensation for attorneys because of their additional workload.
Separately, the commissioners voiced support for a recommendation from the sheriff’s office for a more than $400,000 contract with a health care provider at the county jail.
Bids were opened last month, and Wellpath, Nashville, Tennessee was the only company to bid. The firm, previously known as Correct Care Solutions, held the contract previously.
Sheriff Capt. Ryan Kidwell and the prosecutor’s office reviewed the contract. Kidwell recommended including an additional $67,987 to provide part-time nursing care at night, one of the options included in the bid.
The bid was $356,043 and with the additional expense will be $424,030 for the year.
The commissioners are expected to take action on a resolution at the board’s Thursday morning meeting.
Separately, the commissioners approved a contract with Montgomery County to duplicate older records of county probate and juvenile court to reduce storage space and preserve the documents in archival quality. The county has contracted with Montgomery County in recent years. This year $13,000 was allocated for the expense.