County pays public defender debts
NEVADA CITY – The Public Defender’s office is digging out from under.
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized an $82,700 shift of funds to the PD’s office to cover “unplanned expenses.”
The major part of the deficit occurred when long-term employees, who had large amounts of unused paid vacation and sick leave, left the office, said Stephanie Snyder county administrative analyst.
“The majority (of the cost outlay) was the buyout of (former Public Defender) Richard Campbell,” Snyder said. “Using round numbers, he had $48,000 in unused time. Assistant Public Defender Greg Hodges retired from his job and had $13,000 due him.”
Campbell was fired from his 22-year position after a report from the California Public Defender’s Association, ordered by the Board of Supervisors, verified allegations by some staffers of poor management in his office.
The report did praise Campbell’s legal skills, and he was hired as a temporary district attorney in the county’s family support division in November.
The other expenses cited as contributing to the deficit include the contract lawyers who were hired to take over case loads while lawyers were on sick leave and vacation, Snyder said.
The money to cover the additional costs comes from contingency funds, set aside and made available for unanticipated expenses, said administrative analyst Laura Matteson.
Contingency funds differ from reserve funds, which are set aside for a specific future purpose.
The bulk of the budget bite occurs because people are only paid off when they leave, County Administrator Ted Gaebler said.
“It isn’t a good policy,” Gaebler said. “Leave time doesn’t cost you anything, but if the people (leave), and some very senior people have left, it costs us a significant amount at once.”
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