A major pool of money the Monroe County Prosecutor’s office depends on to operate will run out of money by this summer. Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal says his office has been relying too heavily on funds that come from the pre-trial diversion program, or PDP.
The revenue comes from offenders with no prior criminal history who pay fees for crimes such as public intoxication to have their records wiped clean. Gaal says the fund is too variable and meant to supplement the program, not finance it. The situation was made worse when the county council cut the prosecutor’s office personnel costs four years ago.
“It was exacerbated in 2007 when the council moved four legal secretaries out of county general and into the pre-trial diversion budget along with our office expenses,” Gaal says. “So ever since then we’ve been operating in the red.”
Gaal says before he was the Monroe County Prosecutor, an agreement was made between the prosecutor’s office and the county council. In return for hiring more staff for the prosecutor’s office, they would direct a portion of PDP money into the county’s general fund.
County Council President Geoff McKim says the deal was made in the late 1990s. He says the payments of PDP funds into the county’s general fund stopped in 2007.
“When the payments stopped essentially the employment stopped and the council sent the people back to be paid directly by the prosecutor’s office and by pre-trial diversion,” McKim says.
The prosecutor’s office now relies on PDP funds to cover nearly 37 percent of its expenses, a high number compared to other Indiana counties. Gaal says Tippecanoe County, for example, uses PDP revenue to fund 15 percent of its expenses.
The prosecutor’s office has enough reserve funds to last until summer. When the county council begins working on its budget it will have to decide whether to appropriate money from the general fund to cover the prosecutor’s office.