This community opinion was contributed by community member Kenneth Kovanda. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
I served on the Grand Jury for two years and back then our budget was $19,000, but we had to pay rent to use a room at the sheriff's office that came out of our budget. We had five or so items that we had to investigate each year. It took two or more people for each investigation. We received a letter from a county employee concerning a situation that he felt needed to be looked at. We interviewed eight people and spent weeks just on this one situation. We used to receive $15 a meeting and received mileage money to the meeting.
I disagree with Margie Barrios that every agency is expected to live within their budget. The county allows a Public Defender a budget for the year, but depending on his workload they almost always have to increase the budget to compensate him for his work, so what she said is not true. The Grand Jury is very similar in that they don't have any advanced notice how much work will be required for the year, so they should get an increase to compensate them for their extra work just like the Public Defender.
We had to investigate the Board of Supervisors on a situation and after that investigation, the budget was reduced the following year by taking away the mileage for our meetings. I would think that the budget would increase with the cost of living just like the salaries of county employees increase. I don't think any county employee is making the same today as they did in 2006.
The people on the Grand Jury take their job very seriously and deserve the respect of the community and the Board of Supervisors.
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