JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County is applying for a $110,124 grant from the state Office of Indigent Legal Services to pay for a fifth assistant public defender.
"This is for the grant application to make sure we're accepted," county Administrative Officer Jon Stead said.
Stead said once the grant is approved, the county would develop a detailed description of the part-time position.
The office of county Public Defender Gerard McAuliffe Jr. now has four part-time assistant public defenders. They are 1st Assistant Public Defender Michael W. Smrtic, 2nd Assistant Public Defender Michael J. Poulin, 3rd Assistant Public Defender Russell P. Martin and 4th Assistant Public Defender Roger L. Paul.
The resolution approved by the county Board of Supervisors Monday said McAuliffe received notification from the state Office of Indigent Legal Services that the county is eligible for a grant to "improve the quality of legal services provided to indigent individuals" in the county.
The three-year grant would be distributed to the county from the state's Indigent Legal Services Fund. The annual amount of the grant would be $36,708.
McAuliffe is proposing to use grant proceeds toward salary and benefits for a new assistant public defender, at an annual salary of $25,000 per year, with approximate county benefit costs of $11,250 per year.
McAuliffe would return to the board later to pursue creation of the new position if the state approves the grant.
The Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee, when it considered the application, attached a stipulation that the position continue only as long as it is funded entirely by the state.
The new defender would be used to defend people going through town courts, primarily at night.
The extra person would help, McAuliffe said.
He also told the committee his county department has tightened its finances.
The public defender's office has seen a $227,000 decrease in expenditures for assigned counsel in recent years, McAuliffe said.
He said a decrease in spending since 2009 resulted from many factors, including case management, closely monitoring vouchers and internal controls.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.