NORWICH – A 1974 Chenango County law requiring equivalent salaries and budgets for the public defender and the district attorney’s offices has been referred to the county’s attorney for legal review.
Members of the Safety and Rules Committee made the move last week after Chenango County District Attorney Joseph A. McBride alerted them to a discrepancy between the two departments’ budgets, with the public defender’s office receiving $120,000 more. The budget last year in Public Defender Alan E. Gordon’s office also exceeded that of the DA’s, by about $70,000.
“According to our local law, that states the amount of the public defender’s budget would never exceed ours ... I just want to make sure that our district attorney’s office is adequately funded so we can provide quality services to the citizens of Chenango County,” McBride wrote in an April 1 letter to the committee’s chairman, Jack T. Cook, R-Greene.
The two departments’ budgets differ, but, according to the Chenango County 2010 budget, the salaries for the DA and Gordon, for their assistants and for their secretaries, are in line.
“Either we have to amend the resolution (which led to the 1974 statute), or create another resolution,” said committee member Jerry L. Kreiner, R-Plymouth, in response to McBride’s suggestion.
Chairman Cook cited a local law that prohibits past boards from making commitments for future boards, and suggested turning the matter over to Chenango County Attorney Richard W. Breslin for his interpretation.
Also in his letter, the DA requested permission to promote part-time Assistant District Attorney Michael Ferrarese to full-time in 2011. He cited an increased workload due to the influx of heroin and other drug-related criminal activity in addition to more commitments in drug court. McBride provided a spreadsheet comparing counties of similar population and the number of employees in the district attorney’s offices. According to the data, Chenango County has, in fact, the lowest number of ADAs and staff per population in all of New York...