ELIZABETHTOWN — It’s getting harder to recruit assistant district attorneys and public defenders who live inside Essex County.
That’s what County Attorney Daniel Manning III told the County Board of Supervisors recently, and it’s a State Public Officers Law requirement that those employees must be county residents, he said.
“We’ve had trouble recruiting,” Manning said. “Many counties have sought Home Rule legislation to allow recruitment from adjoining counties. Both the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices have indicated this would help them.”
In the past, assistant DAs who lived outside the Essex County have rented rooms in the county to use as their legal residences for employment purposes.
Manning said he’d like to settle the issue by making a request to the State Legislature for Home Rule Law legislation that would amend the Public Officers Law so non-residents can serve as public defenders or assistant DAs, as long as they live in an adjoining county. Those are appointed offices, and elected officials such as the DA would still have to be county residents.
Other counties have gotten similar dispensation, he said.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously gave Manning approval to apply for the change.
For the District Attorney’s Office, the board also gave its OK for four assistant DAs to receive raises of about $2,330 each this year from grant monies.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said he doesn’t put the grants into the county’s annual salary resolution because they are then harder to track.
“They tend to get left there, and when the grant ends, they get rolled over,” Palmer said.
The special raises will end Dec. 31 unless the grants are renewed.
In addition, the County Probation Office has vacancies it must fill, at a time when its workload is soaring, Probation Director Juliann Beatty told lawmakers.