The Franklin County prosecutor’s office got a boost in salary in the 2018 budget, primarily for staff salaries.

There was an increase of $57,921 over the 2017 spending plan for Prosecutor Bob Parks’ department. There is $1,728,156 budgeted for the office this year. There was $1,670,235 budgeted last year, according to information provided by the county.

Parks noted that pay for his staff has increased this year by $73,624 due to partial implementation of the countywide salary study and a 2 percent cost of living raise.

“This brings the whole office up to speed,” he said. “According to the salary study, half of the people in the county who were underpaid were in my office.”

Parks explained that the pay increase was necessary to retain quality attorneys and support staff.

He added that he has been fighting for better wages for years.

“This is what I have been complaining about to the commission for 20 years,” Parks said.

He noted that, other than salaries, much of his 2018 budget mirrored the previous year.

“The big things all stayed the same,” he said.

Increased Caseload

From Sept. 30, 2016, through Aug. 31, 2017, the prosecutors office experienced a 35 percent increase in felony cases compared to 2016. There also was a 12.5 percent increase in misdemeanors. There were 1,074 felony cases issued during that time frame.

“We were able to get more charges issued last year because we hired an additional attorney,” Parks said. “We were able to divide some work and concentrate more on getting charges out.”

He attributes some of the increased caseload to property crimes and other cases linked to drug use.

“We are seeing more opioid-related crimes,” he said. “We still have meth cases, and we also are starting to see cocaine come back.”

Grand Jury

According to Parks, the use of the grand jury was “restricted” last year.

The office presented 396 cases to the grand jury in 2014-15. That dropped to 157 cases in 2015-16 and then went down again in 2016-17 to 105 cases.

“The restriction has substantially increased the number of preliminary hearing settings, slowed the case closure rate and has resulted in a case backlog, putting additional strain on my present staff of attorneys and support staff,” Parks noted in his budget report. “This restriction continues as of this date and the increased workload looks to continue into the immediate future.”

Highlights in 2017

From Sept. 30, 2016, through Aug. 31, 2017, the prosecutor’s office reviewed over 7,3000 reports submitted by law enforcement agencies in the county.

The office also provided services to more than 1,500 victims.

The prosecutor’s office received its 14th year of STOP Violence Against Women Grant to enhance the ability to successfully prosecute domestic violence cases.

Following are other accomplishments for the office:

• Continued and expanded the Regional Child Advocacy Center for interviewing child victims of abuse cases;

• Participated in monthly review of all children who are interviewed through the Child Advocacy Center;

• Continued and expanded the Franklin County Drug Court, which equips participants with the tools to maintain a drug-free life and saves the county more than $90,000 in incarceration fees;

• Participated in drug court graduations held four times a year with an average of eight to 12 graduates each session;

• Implemented the ninth DWI court, which helps get felony DWI offenders out of jail, saving the county money;

• Supplying the books for the Moral Recognition Therapy Program, which is a requirement of all treatment court participants;

• Continued with the Minors in Possession program, which is intended to reduce underage drinking;

• Prepared and presented training seminars to law enforcement agencies to keep them up to date on case law and legal procedures; and

• Continued to implement a supervisory treatment program for those charged with Class A misdemeanor DWIs.