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In Autos, Life
December 21, 2012
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-(Continued from Page 1) Johnson spoke at the meeting on behalf of his JP 2 office. His presentation included some case num- bers and other information about the cases which pass through his court. It had been suggested during the budget hearings the workload in the JP 2 office might not warrant three clerks. Johnson didn’t see it that way. He said he believes JP 2 will have more work as a result of additional sub- divisions being built in the county along with RV parks and other venues which attract more visi- tors and residents to the county. He also said be- ing able to secure an avail- able courtroom has been a problem resulting in a case backload. “If you go by strictly numbers this court has not been overly productive but actually our workload has increased,” Johnson said. “It’s one of those things, where you have to be there to understand it. Trying to get jury trials. Trying to get bench trials set when you don’t know you’re going to have a courtroom and you’re sharing with other courtrooms. And I will tell you… I’ve held court in the hallway.” He said his office could not function with two clerks, adding there’s a backlog of more than 200 cases waiting to be heard due, in part, to lack of courtroom space. “I’m saying that all the courts here in Cooke County work well togeth- er,” he said, adding, “I’m saying I think it would be a very short-sighted thing to restrict our ability to even catch up to where we were before all of this started, and that’s why that I’m asking for the court to give due consideration to what we do need to do and just continue it like this with the three clerks… All I’m asking for is the status quo.” Hollowell said staffing decisions come down to the numbers of cases and the revenue totals. “I would suggest that the administrative staff in Pre- cinct 1 handled 15,033 tick- ets while the administrative staff in Precinct 2 was han- dling 436,” Hollowell said. “Do you think it took more people to handle 15,033 or did it take more people to handle 436?” The starting salary for a clerk is $56,800. Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington was also on hand to request a re- classify to administrative assistant for one staff mem- ber and a salary increase of $7,604 including benefits for the employee. He said the omission from the budget was an oversight on his part. The commission- ers unanimously approved the reclassification. As for the six percent county law-enforcement salary increase connected to a Senate Bill 22 grant program, Sappington said his preference is to use the $350,000 grant for equip- ment for the department and let the county fund the salary increases. The vehi- cles must be ordered far in advance of delivery. “It’s one line item versus another line item,” he said. Commissioners dis- cussed the expected arrival date for the grant money and whether to fund the salary increases from the county budget. Sappington also said staffing is reaching a criti- cal point especially at the jail. “Man, those guys are working,” he said. “We’re six [employees] short. It takes seven total employees back in general population to have a shift and as you know we don’t have any choice in that.” He noted the Texas Jail Commission requires cer- tain numbers of staff mem- bers on shift. “With six vacancies that tells you that somebody is working on their day off every day to make it work,” he said, noting the prisoner housing program (Continued on Page 8)