Legislators Clarify District Attorney’s Office Funding

To The Reader’s Forum:

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson has made statements in the press regarding the Chautauqua County Legislature actions in finalizing the 2018 Budget that we feel need to be clarified.

Mr. Swanson is reported to have said that during the last budget session he spoke to the Chautauqua County Legislature in hopes of getting another full time prosecutor in his office. This is true, and the tentative 2018 Budget the Legislature received from the County Executive did in fact contain funding for another full time prosecutor for the District Attorney. And in budget deliberations many legislators voiced their strong support for the additional full time prosecutor dedicated to targeting narcotic drug cases. As we worked to finalize the Budget, the Legislators worked hard to preserve this funding.

Mr. Swanson is quoted as saying “I thought we were going to get an additional prosecutor and, late in the game, the Legislature pulled the money.” This is what needs to be clarified. The tentative budget contained a daunting increase to the District Attorney of $232,621, a 12.5 percent increase. This included an additional full time prosecutor. In forming the final budget, we reduced $80,563, still leaving the District Attorney an increase of $152,058, or 8.1 percent. Our clearly expressed intent was to fund the State mandated increase in the District Attorney compensation, the additional full time prosecutor, the staff annual compensation increases, and increased contractual expenses. The $152,058 increase more than covered these priorities. Regrettably, Mr. Swanson elected to allocate the budget increase to other priorities, and chose not to add the additional full time prosecutor we all desired.

Pierre Chagnon

Chautauqua County Legislature Audit & Control Committee Chair

R-Bemus Point

Chuck Nazzaro

Chautauqua County Legislature Audit & Control Committee Vice-Chair