Dallas County is facing a similar dilemma over grants used to fund extra family violence prosecutors, which run out this budget cycle. Reports KERA-TV:
The Family Violence Unit in the Dallas County District Attorney's office could take a hit when County Commissioners approve a new budget tomorrow. KERA's BJ Austin says state grant money is running out, and the county can't pick up the cost.
In the Family Violence Intake Unit of the D-A's office an assistant district attorney works with police, files felony domestic violence cases, and presents them to the grand jury. An investigator does that in misdemeanor family violence courts, and a legal secretary helps family violence victims get protective orders and otherwise navigate the legal system.
Officials with the District Attorney say the loss of these three jobs will make prosecution of domestic violence cases much slower. Brandy Smith, with the Brighter Tomorrow's shelter in Grand Prairie says that would not be good for victims.
Smith: When things take too long, they lose their nerve. They sometimes might not follow through. ...
County Commissioner Mike Cantrell says 100 million dollars in state and federal grant money for many county jobs is running out. And there's no way the county can afford to keep those positions. ...
Cantrell suggests the District Attorney look at his Hot Check Fund or Forfeiture Fund to see if he can find money to save the Family Violence jobs.Such grants skew local budgeting decisions while discouraging using discretionary money - like the hot check and forfeiture funds - to fulfill local needs. Budget crises have a way of clarifying priorities: If Dallas County wants more prosecutors than it's budgeted, commissioners must pay for them. If they choose to prioritize spending in other areas, like fixing problems at the jail, repairing roads, public health, etc., such decisions are the essence of what budgetmaking is all about. Naturally every politician would like to be all things to all people, but taxation is the main, limiting factor. These grants allowed politicians to avoid those limits, temporarily, but eventually local taxpayers must pony up, or else hard decisions must be made.