One bill, proposed by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, asks the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission to study the feasibility, cost and implementation of statewide coverage of public defender’s offices. Another, from Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, requires that any county or city that provides local supplemental funding to a prosecutor’s office must do the same for public defenders.
Taylor’s budget is about $6.2 million, about twice the estimated $3.5 million the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission told lawmakers that it would cost to establish a public defender’s office in the county.
That $3.5 million estimate covers the salaries 24 attorneys, two investigators, two mitigation specialists who help with sentencing, and seven other administrative positions, as well as office space and other general office expenses.
The state, through a formula set by its Compensation Board, funds only about 38% of Taylor’s total budget, she and county officials said. The remaining 68% comes from the county.
“It’s really ballooned into what on paper looks like a county responsibility, when ultimately the [Compensation] Board is supposed to properly fund the commonwealth’s attorney, and that’s one of the primary issues that we have and why we can’t take a stance either way, because the proper fiscal analysis and evaluation hasn’t been completed yet,” said Cari Tretina, the county’s chief of staff.
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