Assistant DA position approved for $80,000 annual salary

Pct. 5 Constable makes pitch for vehicle

he Shelby County District Attorney's Office will be getting an assistant district attorney to help get through a backlog of cases which newly seated DA Karren Price said she inherited.

The position will pay $80,000 a year and will not include an insurance benefit at least through the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The decision to allow the hiring of an assistant came after about a 50-minute a closed session of the Shelby County Commissioners' Court last week.

The additional staff position came without increasing the budget of the DA's office and was accomplished by combining salaries from other positions and making the DA's investigator job a part-time position, according to Commissioner Roscoe McSwain, who explained the changes.

“In oder to stay within Ms. Price's budget we're going to combine two salaries” of vacated or altered positions, he said. “We'll also change inside the budget, the salary of investigator will go to a part-time position at $20 an hour with no benefits, that will also create a savings.”

The investigator's position will be for up to 30 hours a week, McSwain said. Neither position will be furnished insurance at county expense, he said.

McSwain made the motion approving the changes, which were unanimously approved by the court. A separate but related agenda item called for amending the DA's budget but that was not necessary since the changes did not result in an increase in the overall budget expenses, Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison said.

In other action at the Wednesday, Jan. 13, meeting commissioners tabled action on a request by Pct. 5 Constable Josh Tipton to purchase a vehicle for his use on the job. Recently seated Tipton inherited a vehicle which has been sitting at the sheriff's office complex because it is not operable, he said.

Commissioner Jimmy Lout suggested having the vehicle towed to a garage so officials can get an estimate on repairs needed to get the vehicle operating. McSwain said the purchase of a new vehicle for the office had not been budgeted in the current fiscal year.

For the time being Tipton said he was using a county car which Pct. 3 Constable Roy Cheatwood loaned him which assistant constable Newton Johnson Jr. had been using.

“I'm going to be a working constable and I need a good reliable vehicle,” Tipton said. In addition to several repair bills on the vehicle allotted to Tipton's position, County Auditor Clint Porterfield said the vehicle's interior was dirty and in poor condition with seats ripped and torn.

“I had no idea of the condition” before taking office,” Tipton said in his request. McSwain said it would be hard for the county to come up with the additional $30,000-plus Tipton was requesting since the purchase was not budgeted for the current year.

Upon the recommendation of Pct. 4 Commissioner Tom Bellmyer, the court rejected all three bids submitted to purchase an excavator from the county. The three bids opened at the meeting ranged from $3,095 to $7,575.

The commissioners also tabled action on extending a least for property the county owns in Garza County. The property has been leased to a private individual for $12,000 a year and McSwain said he felt a 10 percent increase in the five-year lease extension was reasonable.

That would add $1,200 to the county's revenue on the property to $13,200 annually. Officials said the property was leased for grazing and hunting purposes.

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