The Piedmont Judicial Circuit public defender’s office has secured funding for a new social worker position that department officials have said is needed to help with an increasing workload.
The Barrow County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved county manager Mike Renshaw’s recommendation for the county to pay its $23,531 share of the salary of the position, which totals $52,290. Barrow is part of the circuit with Jackson and Banks counties and contributes a 45-percent pro rata share of costs.
The new position is part of a renewed indigent defense services agreement between the office and the three counties, which will take effect Jan. 1 after the current agreement expires.
The new agreement will remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2017. It includes an increase in funding to help cover the costs of the position and of salary and benefit adjustments, of which Barrow will be on the hook for an additional $13,358.
Commissioners approved an $18,443 budget amendment Tuesday to help cover what hasn’t already been allotted to the office.
The extra money will be pulled from a county contingency fund, Renshaw said.
Funding for the new social worker position comes after Renshaw initially recommended the county not fund it in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget this summer.
Public defender Donna Seagraves said in August her office was in desperate need of help because in addition to defending clients, it has been tasked with helping them gain admission into programs that serve as an alternative to jail time in an effort to save taxpayers money.