Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith asked county leaders Tuesday to allow him to switch his contract prosecutor to a full-time county employee.


Commissioners quickly approved the matter after hearing that the move would be budget neutral.


Smith told commissioners he currently has three full-time prosecutors working in the 397th state District Court and three in the 15th state District Court. However, he said he only had one full-time prosecutor and one contract prosecutor working in the 59th state District Court.


That contract employee could work no more than 29 hours a week.


“We did an evaluation back five years,” he said. “In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, we have seen a 15 percent increase in felony filings.”


He said considering the growth the county is experiencing, he didn’t expect those numbers to go down anytime soon.


Converting the contract prosecutor to a full-time position makes sense, he said, because the job of a prosecutor in the county’s district courts is 24/7 and having someone who can only work part-time means other prosecutors have to step in to fill that spot once those hours have been worked.


“This means we are going to get more personnel hours for the same price basically,” Smith said.


Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said he has supported the contract prosecutor program in the past and noted that Smith himself started with the county under that program. However, Magers said the county could hardly turn its back on the opportunity to get a full-time prosecutor for the cost of additional retirement and insurance.


Under the contract prosecutor’s program, the part-time prosecutor used his or her own staff to complete work for the county and was not paid retirement or insurance.


Criminal Justice Editor Jerrie Whiteley can be reached at JWhiteley@HeraldDemocrat.com.