Ex-prosecutor: Palm Beach County government should pay criminal panel salaries

Van Arnam (Eliot Kleinberg/Post Staff)

Van Arnam (Eliot Kleinberg/Post Staff)

BarryKrischer052316

Krischer (Eliot Kleinberg/Post Staff)

Salaries for the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission should come out of a special taxing district or the general county budget, not from trust fund dollars that could be spent on crime prevention, former State Attorney Barry Krischer said Monday.

The commission’s proposed $3.63 million 2016-2017 budget – which the board preliminary approved at its meeting Monday — includes $531,383 in paychecks for Executive Director Kristina Henson and the CJC’s eight other staffers.

Of that, $241,970 comes from the Crime Prevention Trust Fund, a fund criminal defendants pay into as part of their penalties.

Krischer, who’s the commission’s treasurer, said that “for us to be taking crime prevention dollars and spending them on salaries  is unacceptable.” He said this is happening “as we have seen these grant dollars shrinking, and shrinking, and shrinking.”

Krischer said after the meeting he’s been lobbying for the special taxing district for close to two decades.

Deputy County Administrator Jon Van Arnam, sitting in at Monday’s meeting, told members the county is just now starting to assemble its 2016-2017 budget but noted that a combination of county taxes, grants and trust fund dollars will fully pay for next year’s drug court and criminal re-entry programs.

“You may not be totally pleased, but I think the budget picture is a little brighter than you portrayed it,” Van Arnam said.

“So,” commission Chair Lee Waring said, “our message to Jon and commissioners is, ’Thank you for your efforts, and keep it going, because we do need the help.”

Also Monday, the CJC voted to recommend Kevin Jones, assistant pastor at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, as its clergy representative. County commissioners make the pick.