For the second year in a row, the Clark County Attorney’s Office has proposed a decrease to the department budget. This year, the proposed budget cut is 2.99%. At the same time, the office is handling more cases than in each of the previous five years.
“I think it’s important for elected officials and county department heads to be mindful of the economic realities facing local government today. Obviously at some point the cuts are going to have to stop as I have to maintain adequate funding for the department, but I try to scrutinize my department needs as much as I can in a deliberate effort to save taxpayer money,” stated Allison D. Kuhns, Clark County Attorney.
According to Kuhns, actual expenditures are also down. “We’ve decreased actual expenditures over 9% since 2012.”
One way the office has been able to decrease operating costs is by eliminating the line item for out-of-county legal services. This line item has been used in the past when cases were prosecuted in Ford County rather than Clark County, which is sometimes a necessity due to the challenges of coordinating the schedules of two attorneys and a judge.
“That line item was used to pay the County Attorney an additional hourly fee for prosecuting Clark County cases in Ford County. That just doesn’t make sense.” Kuhns noted. “There should not be a financial incentive to prosecute local crimes in Ford County.”
The department is also utilizing diversion fees and the special prosecutor’s trust fund to pay for trainings and extraordinary expenses, like case management and time tracking software that has increased office efficiency and will make the department more accountable to the taxpayers.
Despite the proposed cuts, the Clark County Attorney’s Office is prosecuting more crimes than in recent history. In 2010, there were 24 criminal cases filed in Clark County; in 2014, there were 50. Traffic cases are also on the rise.
“I can’t say if this is due to an increase in criminal activity or an increase in the detection of criminal activity. Either way, this office has seen a significant increase in its case load in the past five years,” Kuhns explained. “We’re certainly doing more with less.”