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More crime, more money and departments request more staff in Dickinson area

An increase in criminal activity has the Stark County Sheriff's Office and the Stark County State's Attorney's Office asking for more staff for 2013.

During budget hearings as part of its regular meeting Tuesday morning, Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning asked the Stark County Commission for more space and more people for his office due to increased caseload due to more crime in the area.

"We have more felonies and more complex felonies. We have more misdemeanors, more violent misdemeanors. We have more juvenile cases than we've ever seen. We have more child support than we've ever seen." Henning said at the Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson.

More time and money is needed to research and try complex cases, he said. Deposition costs and witness fees have increased at the State's Attorney's Office.

Henning estimated that it would take $90,000 to hire an attorney and administrative assistant to help ease his office's caseload. This is in addition to the $384,000 requested going into the meeting, fiscal year 2012 the office was budgeted for $366,000.

"I see, in the not very distance future, no change in what's happened," he said. "And in the distant future I still don't see any change in what's happening."

While the workload is calling for another state's attorney's assistant and administrative assistant, the limited office space might prevent that from happening, Henning said.

The budget hearings were a chance to allow each county department head to discuss their proposed budget for the next year. No decisions were made, but it gave the Commission and department heads a chance to make changes and requests before anything is final.

The Sheriff's Office is also asking for additional staff to deal with an increase of crime in the area. It wants two new deputies, one on the road and one investigator, and a new office clerk, Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said.

"We're not slowing down any," he said. "Our workload is increasing and I don't see any slowing down in the near future."

Commissioners were concerned about the cost of some line-items in the SCSO budget, which were requested at $1.5 million for 2013, although Tuhy brought more requests to the meeting.

SCSO in its proposed 2013 budget has $90,000 for vehicle expenses and $85,000 for three vehicles on trade and a transport van, Tuhy said.

Each SCS deputy has their own vehicle, which concerned Commissioner Russ Hoff as the office adds personnel.

"You did talk at one time when we get so many deputies that they could maybe split vehicles," he said.

The issue the sheriff had with sharing vehicles was the shortened replacement time and cost for equipment transfer when getting new vehicles, as well as the hassle of switching personal equipment between shifts.

Other budgetary concerns:

Commissioner Jay Elkin brought up the idea of changing the way the county gives raises. Currently the standard is 5 percent.

Last year Dunn County gave all employees a $2-an-hour raise to bump up the lower-end wages, and followed that with a 3 percent raise, he said.

The Commission discussed the possibility, but no action was taken.

The 2013 Stark County budget was not finalized, but needs to be by Oct. 10, Auditor Kay Haag said.

The next meeting is Oct. 2 at 8 a.m. at the Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206