Prosecutor's office is severely understaffed
The district attorney representing Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties faces a drastic shortage of attorneys.
Western Judicial Circuit DA Deborah Gonzalez pitched ACC Commissioners last night on adding $250,000 to her office’s budget to combat gang activity. Part of that money would go towards hiring a new gang prosecutor. In the course of that conversation, District 10’s Mike Hamby asked Gonzalez how many assistant district attorneys her office currently had.
"We have positions for 17 ADAs," Gonzalez said.
"And how many are filled right now?" Hamby asked.
"Eight," replied Gonzalez.
Gonzalez told commissioners that the part of the problem is a familiar one – salaries in Athens-Clarke County are not competitive with those of nearby areas, a challenge that has also come up when talking about recruitment and retention for police officers and Sheriff’s deputies.
"We've been losing ADAs to nearby circuits because of funding," Gonzalez told commissioners. "They can go 30 minutes down the road and get from $20,000 to $30,000 more. We start our starting salary for out lawyers at least $10,000 less than the next circuit over."
County manager Blaine Williams said that the salaries were evaluated as part of a broader pay study but could use another look.