Its looks like our little District Attorney went whining to the media- again. Can't manage a budget so he asks the Supervisors to bail his office out of financial trouble. The Clarion-Ledger reported yesterday:
Some Hinds County supervisors say District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith has not been completely transparent about taxpayer money his agency is spending and can't produce a detailed budget to account for agency purchases.
Smith's office has requested at least $70,000 in additional funds from the county, saying agency is operating "in the negative."....
At this point, the district attorney's office owes the county $64,000 from the worthless check unit, Board of Supervisors president Peggy Calhoun said. Smith said his office also owes a private DNA laboratory another $22,000.
In the Feb. 17 Hinds County board meeting, Smith appealed to the supervisors to give him another $10,000 a month, saying that he's short in both salaries and operating expenses......
He wants more money? He should be able to provide some budget information, right? Guess again:
The district attorney's office could not provide overall budget numbers at the meeting but did establish that its budget with state and county funds included is over a million dollars. The county contributes $457,895.86 of that.....
In the meeting, the supervisors said they had asked Smith previously for an itemized budget and he had not provided one.
"At the managerial level, you should know in great detail where your deficiencies are," Greer said. "That's why we want to look at the budget to see what line item is the deficiency and find ways to balance it. It's very hard to justify any additional funds after the budget has been finalized without that."
Calhoun said Tuesday that she had met with one of Smith's staff members and was supposed to have those numbers in hand this week. She has not yet received them.....
However, the D.A. did have a ready-made excuse: It's all the mean ole Sheriff's fault:
Asked why his office is operating in the red, Smith said he had asked for more in the last budget and was denied. He also told supervisors that the Hinds County Sheriff's Department was not giving his office its share of the drug-seized funds.
Smith said that in the past, the district attorney's office has received $65,000 a year from the Sheriff's Department's forfeiture fund. Smith said since Sheriff Tyrone Lewis' administration took over, he's only received $3,000.
Calhoun said Smith had told her he received over $100,000 a year from the Sheriff's Department in the past. But based on numbers she had from the Sheriff's Department, Calhoun said the district attorney's office only received $40,000 between 2008 and 2011.
"That's a big difference," she said.....
"By state law, you can't budget based on what you expect to seize," Greer said Tuesday. "I'm gonna budget on based on what I think I'm going to make doing drug interdiction and arresting people on the interstate? You can't hang your hat on that; it's not what the law says." Article.This was a good article written by Therese Apel. There are a couple of facts that need to be interjected into this story. There is one person whom the D.A. did not blame for the lack of seizure money: Circuit Judge Tomie Green. She has been sitting on nearly half a million dollars in forfeiture money for a looooong time now. Consider it part of her feud with the Sheriff's office. The D.A. knows this but doesn't say anything about her refusal to approve the funds. There was a similar sum that was just approved by the courts but it was held for a long time as well.
What the D.A. has not done is formally request the money. There are certain procedures to go follow if the D.A. wants a share of the money and guess what? They have not been followed. His prosecutors have not filed the required paperwork to get the funds. If he wants the money, perhaps he should ask for it. However, its easier just to blame the Sheriff instead of confronting the judge or following the proper procedures.
What is more troubling is the fact that the District Attorney's office apparently has no budget and did not tell Supervisor Calhoun the truth about the budget. One suspects that the D.A. does not even know how to make a budget. The D.A. might want to know where his money is or was before he goes asking the board to give him more money.
One interesting little fact: It was Supervisor Robert Graham who placed his budget request on the agenda for the February 17 meeting.