Pocatello, ID–In a recent social media post, the watchdog group Pocatello for Accountable Government Entities informed the community that the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office is facing a critical staffing shortage. The post reads:
FYI BANNOCK COUNTY RESIDENTS:
At the 09/21/2022 Bannock County Commissioners Business Meeting, it was brought to the County Commissioners’ attention by Bannock County Prosecutor, Steve Herzog, that when fully staffed the prosecutor’s office has nine (9) attorneys (of 12) handling the criminal caseload. They have recently lost three of those attorneys and may be losing a fourth soon for various reasons (two are moving to the Public Defenders) which potentially may leave his office with five of nine attorneys to handle the load.
Mr. Herzog was bringing this to their attention because they cannot afford to lose any additional staff. He relayed that recruitment is not yielding many applicants. Continued staffing shortages could force changes in how, what, and when criminal cases are prosecuted and at some point, if this problem isn’t addressed, this may become a public safety issue.
He pointed out this is not a problem unique to Bannock County as both Twin Falls and the AG’s office (as examples) have similar staffing and recruiting issues.
The request was for a one-year stipend which could vary in cost depending upon the amount and how it is applied. In the “ROUGH ESTIMATE” provided by staff, a $1000/month stipend per attorney could cost anywhere from $144,000/ year (not including benefits) for only the Prosecutor’s office to $363,000 (not including benefits) if expanded to the Public Defender’s Office.
The Commissioners wanted extra time to think about it. Commissioner Moser expressed he hates stipends because, at the end of the year, the extra funds get taken away. Commissioner Hough questioned if there wasn’t a more permanent solution that involved “thinking outside the box” and not just solving every problem with more money. Commissioner Tovey was not present.
A recent ISJ article highlighted the staffing issues in the Sheriff’s office. It would seem there are other departments struggling as well.