County OKs $149,000 for first assistant DA

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Smith County Commissioners unanimously approved an adjusted pay increase for the district attorney’s first assistant during their regular weekly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30

This pay hike to $149,000 is an increase from the $120,000 set for the 2019 fiscal year budget which was approved earlier this year.

Incoming DA Jacob Putnam told the court he should be able to hire such a person for $149,000 per year.

County Judge Nathaniel Moran said during the budget process the pay scale for the first DA assistant was reduced from $164,000 to $120,000 “to try and bring it in line with some of the other employees in the DA’s office.’’

But, Moran added, he feels now that salary wasn’t realistic.

“I set this too low, way too low,’’ he said. “(Putnam) tested the market and told us we need to set this a little higher. We want to make adjustments (in salaries) for our citizens but we don’t want to constrain our elected officials to bring in quality individuals.’’

Putnam -- who won the Republican primary this past spring and was unopposed in the Nov. 6 General Election -- told commissioners of his difficulty in finding candidates even for the $164,000 salary.

“I’ve been going through this (search) process since the primary,’’ he said. “The job has a lot of responsibilities and it’s a big position to fill.’’

Candidates for the position, Putnam said, would have to close a private practice in order to accept the job.

“This salary, while generous by county standards for sure, is not close to what they would make in the private sector,’’ Putnam said.

The incoming DA said he should have a candidate hired at the adjusted salary.

“At the time it was $164,000 I had several turn me down,’’ he said. “I then found one who is willing to close their practice but wouldn’t come unless (the salary) is $149,000.’’

EMPLOYEES HONORED

Also during the Oct. 30 meeting, commissioners recognized several employees for their service to the county.

Jennifer Barfield, office director for the DA’s office, was recognized for 15 years of service; county probation officer Shaunda Petty was honored for 15 years of service; county supervision officer Yvonne Edwards was recognized for 10 years of service; Jack Walder of county facilities was honored for five years of service and Lynda Swann, office manager for the county’s pretrial and personal bond office, was recognized for 20 years of service.

Other employees honored include:

25 Years: Patricia Blalock, Sheriff’s Department

20 Years: Travis Breazeale, Sheriff’s Department

15 Years: Justin Hall and James Spark, Sheriff’s Department

10 Years: Sheridan Dowdy, Tax Office

5 Years: Carol Bragg, Tax Office; and Kevin Londoff, Sheriff’s Department

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