Thursday, March 21, 2013
First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe is seeking an additional $192,918 from Dorchester County to offset losses in grants and state funding.
Pascoe appeared before Dorchester County Council on Monday to plead his case.
The county currently provides $671,350.
Dorchester County's population, and therefore its caseload, have increased, but funding from the county has remained flat and state and grant funding has decreased by almost 60 percent in the last four years, he said.
Pascoe said he hasn't requested an increase in seven years.
Councilman Jay Byars noted the General Assembly hasn't been funding the Local Government Fund according to the formula in the law.
The Local Government Fund is supposed to help local governments cover the cost of supporting state functions.
There was much grumbling at the county budget workshop last week over a House vote to suspend the formula, and over the fact that Summerville Rep. Jenny Horne voted in favor of suspension and Summerville Rep. Chris Murphy didn't vote at all.
St. George Rep. Patsy Knight voted against suspension.
At Monday's meeting, Pascoe promised he would be an ally in the fight for more state funding and would make any calls requested of him.
But without additional funding, he said, he would probably have to start making cuts in his office.
The first cut would likely be to prosecuting magistrate court cases, because he isn't Constitutionally required to handle those cases, he said.
The county agreed to fund an assistant solicitor at the magistrate court level last year to reduce the backlog of cases and discovered over the course of a six-month pilot that the county collected more fines and saved money by getting people out of the county jail more quickly.
Pascoe said he would probably also ask for fewer terms of court.
His attorneys already handle more cases than recommended, he said. The ideal is 250 cases per prosecutor, but his attorneys handle 402, he said.
Because Dorchester's population base isn't in the county seat, this is the only county in the circuit where he has two offices and has to pay rent, Pascoe said.
Orangeburg and Calhoun counties provide him with free office space and utilities and sometimes cover the costs of expert witness fees, he said.