Commissioners meet to discuss salaries in PA's office

Taylor

The Jefferson County Commissioners held a special meeting Dec. 31 in order to set the salaries for the Deputy prosecutors.

Following an Executive Session with Mark Taylor, who’s set to take office in January as the new Prosecuting Attorney, the commissioners decided to not take any action on adjusting the salaries.

Taylor stated that he intends to do exactly what he campaigned to do, which is to lower the number of people employed in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

Currently, the office employs a Deputy Criminal Attorney for $81,578, A part-time Deputy Civil Attorney for $68,061, a part-time Deputy Criminal Attorney for $60,174 and a Public Defender for $82,409 in addition to Prosecutor Paul Butikofer, whose salary is set at $99,750.

Taylor said he plans to hire two attorneys to handle the criminal side of things and he would handle all the civil cases.

“Although I’m taking it down to two people, the county needs more experienced attorneys to handle the criminal cases we have coming up,” Taylor said. “While they’ll be paid more individually, I’ll still save the county about $29,000.”

Taylor said one reason the commissioners may not have taken any action is because he has not taken office yet. He stated that at the current salary the attorneys are paid though, he’s been unable to attract any attorneys with the necessary experience to handle the criminal cases.

His biggest concern is finding attorneys that will be able to handle the Jesse Gentle case, where Gentle has been charged with the murder of Merle Jay Sorenson.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is also in the midst of an investigation of a suspicious death, which may result in another murder case within the county.

“It’s going to be hard to fill those positions until they approve the changes,” Taylor said.

Commissioner Shayne Young stated that the meeting today mostly revolved around discussion on how Taylor would like to move forward and with Human Resources Manager Rebecca Squires on the budget.

“Mark is aware that we can’t go over the budget and I think we’ll be fine on the budget,” Young said. “I am very concerned about the gap during the change as a commissioner but we’ve encouraged Paul and Mark to work together but it’s up to them to do that.”

Young stated that Taylor needs to have information from the office in order to prosecute the cases that will come up right as he’s sworn into office but that the commissioners have to respect who runs the office until then.

“Mark seems up to the task but of course there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, as there usually is,” Young said.

Taylor said that the day he’s sworn into office, he’ll have an action item before the commissioners to adjust the line items in the budget.

After attempts to contact Prosecuting Attorney Paul Butikofer, The Jefferson Star did not receive a response by Butikofer in time for print deadline.