Reports › BGR Outlook on Jefferson: The Sheriff and the District Attorney

Aug 1, 1997

Second in a new series of reports highlighting the finances of Jefferson Parish Government. Baseline report on the finances of the Office of the District Attorney and the Office of the Sheriff in Jefferson Parish. Also highlights juvenile crime in the parish.

Filed under: Government Finance, Jefferson Parish

For Immediate Release – August 1, 1997

BGR “Outlook” Shows Jefferson Parish Sheriff, DA Invest in Staff, Equipment, Capital Needs

Steps are being taken in the right direction to improve certain operations of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s and DA’s offices, according to a report released today by the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR). Improving management information systems will enable the offices to continue to have more and better information to use in making decisions and to communicate to the public in accounting for resources, according to Jim Brandt, President and CEO of BGR.

The sheriff’s office has a new computer system, and the DA’s office is upgrading its system. The JPSO is investing in a new 800 megahertz radio system and an addition to the westbank administration building. It has added deputies, increased deputy pay, embarked on a regular program of vehicle replacement, and is providing vehicles with improved communications equipment. The hiring of a CPA as Internal Auditor has improved the level of information available in the sheriff office’s annual financial reports, according to Mary Anne Barton, BGR’s Director of Research. “The financial reports now carry statistical information not formerly included,” she observed.

“The proposed budget also provides information not readily available in the past, and we welcome this change,” Barton added. “The budget itself is still not a “program budget” in which citizens can see readily what is expected to be accomplished in certain areas, but it does provide more information than before.”

“Setting up special funds for certain purposes will also make it easier for citizens to see how tax money is being spent,” added Valerie Vindici, who conducted the research for the report.

With an Acting DA in office for part of 1996, the funding and management of the DA’s office began to come under closer scrutiny than before, Brandt observed. The accumulating fund balance in the “DA’s Expense Fund” in particular had come under closer scrutiny after the interim DA offered a portion of the fund balance to contribute toward building a new jail.

According to the BGR report, just the interest earnings of the DA’s Expense Fund exceeded its expenditures for three of the past ten years. In 1996, the DA’s Expense Fund transferred $2.5 million to the Parish Council to be used for the proposed new jail; but the current DA has not yet announced his plans for use of the remainder of the monies. Use of the money is entirely at the discretion of the DA, according to the BGR report.

The new DA has indicated he is committed to improving the working conditions, including space, of his staff. “Expanded space will probably be necessary to accommodate the eight additional assistant DA’s anticipated for the DA’s staff this year.” Brandt commented.

The JPDA has made the job of assistant DA a full-time job for the first time in the history of the office, and salaries and work loads can be expected to increase accordingly. The state legislature also increased by eight the number of assistant DAs it will pay salaries for, and the DA discovered unutilized rant funds available for four additional assistant DAs, so a program of adding professional staff is underway. While increased staffing in the DA’s office can be expected to increase pressure on the district court in the short run, it can be expected to improve case handling in the long run, the BGR report says.

This report is the second in a new series, “BGR Outlook on Jefferson,” launched this year. A copy of the report may be obtained at branches of the Jefferson Parish Public Library. More information about the report or about BGR is available at 525-4152.

BGR is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen-supported research organization founded in 1932 and dedicated to informed public policy-making and the effective use of public resources in the New Orleans metropolitan area.