Victim-witness position may be eliminated

The absence of a request for funding by the district attorney’s office has left the part-time position of Victim Witness Coordinator for Warren County without funding this year, leading the Warren County Commissioners to table discussion of a possible resolution for the problem at their work session Monday morning.

With Victims of Juvenile Offenders grants drying up, the questions that needed to be answered were whether or not the position was necessary and where would potential funding come from.

Commissioner John Bortz proposed that the commissioners put to vote a motion to “fund the part-time victim witness position at its current rate until such time that we make an ultimate decision as to what to do.”

After a brief explanation of the motion, Chairman Stephen Vanco seconded the motion in order to bring the matter to a full discussion.

County Chief Clerk Pam Matve explained the situation. “When she was hired, it was put into the salary board minutes that she would be employed at two days a week as long as there was funding,” she said. “The funding has dried up and we need to make the decision to end the position or keep it going.”

Commissioner John Eggleston disagreed, saying, “I don’t think we have to take action. We took action when we only funded it until the end of December and we should have, in the middle of December, told the person employed that they were done as of the end of December because the funding had gone away and we did not put funding in the budget for this.”

The position requires $15,000 to be funded for the rest of the year.

Eggleston also explained the importance of the position. “When someone has been the victim of crime, who do they have as someone to help them through the judicial process? Those people that are living their lives and all of a sudden find themselves the victims of a violent crime now all of a sudden they have to go through a district attorney, issue statements and appear in court,” he said. “These are the types of things which they are going to be subjected to. (This position) holds the hands of the victim as they go through the judicial process and the process of healing.”

He also referred to the position as “extremely needed, extremely necessary.”

Eggleston made a motion to amend the previous motion stating, “We will fund it until the end of January. At that time the Salary Board will make the final decision at that point whether to continue it for a year.”

Bortz consented to the amendment and the motion to amend the previous motion was approved unanimously. The motion itself was then passed unanimously as well.

Efficiency was another focus at the commissioners’ meeting.

Bortz explained the new schedule for the commissioners as being a way to enhance efficiency. By ‘bundling’ the work sessions, the executive session, and salary board meeting into one meeting, Vanco said he hoped to streamline the process that used to take all afternoon.

The commissioners also approved candidates for positions within the county. They approved motions for candidates for a part-time, union-represented 911 dispatcher position at a rate of $12.43 per hour and the Early Intervention Clerk Typist II position at the Department of Human Services.

Both candidates were approved unanimously.