Friday, December 24, 2010
For the last 10 years, Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Sterner has worked to supplement the pay for his assistant prosecuting attorneys using a fund with a fee collected for hot checks.
Now, that fund is starting to dry up with less check writing and more people using debit cards for transactions.
“I didn’t get the starting pay raised for the assistants through the years,” Sterner said. “It was not a good idea really — spending money that may not always be available for personnel. So the Commission and I have been talking about raising the pay out of the general revenue.”
Sterner said there has been optimism from the Commission on finding the funds to pay the extra salary, but he was cautious about the positive feedback.
“I’m not sure whether they are going to find the general revenue funds to replace those discretionary funds for 2011,” Sterner said.
The hot check fee fund was started by the General Assembly as a way for the prosecuting attorney’s office to make money from the hot check collections.
This is not the first time the General Assembly has made such a fund. Previously, money in one of these funds was used to get computers for the prosecuting attorney’s office.
“On the horizon, there was a bill in the 2010 General Assembly which would have imposed a fee collectible by the prosecuting attorney’s office for collecting resolution on a criminal charge,” Sterner said. “They did not pass it, but I expect it’s something that will come up again.”
This is not a problem unique in Callaway, according to Sterner.
“Prosecutors from St. Louis County to Callaway County are sharing this kind of problem,” he said. “We are all looking to see if there is going to be some kind of funding source.”
The commission has found a surplus in tax revenue this year, and are expecting to have raises for some county employees.
“The fund for hot checks is going away,” County Commissioner Doc Kritzer said. “He has told us for several years, so what we’re trying to do now is to be able to pay the full amount that fund had been supplementing.”
They are still working through budget concerns and are hoping to have a public hearing on Jan. 6 to discuss the final budget with concerned citizens.
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