Williamson County commissioners set aside about $12,000 for magistrates who work overtime in pretrial services in the county.
The court made the unanimous decision Aug. 23, a week before the expected approval of the county budget Aug. 30.
“There's been heavy turnover in that department, and so we're trying to keep that from getting worse by addressing one of the concerns through the motion today to add some overtime to the budget because they are so short-staffed they're not able to take their comp time as they should be able to,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said.
A police officer in certain situations has an option of issuing a cite and release citation for a person to appear before a magistrate at a later date, rather than arresting someone or taking them to jail for some misdemeanors. Williamson County Pretrial Services officials work with the magistrate office to handle the processes of these citations.
“We're required to magistrate anyone who gets arrested and booked into our jail in a 24- to 48-hour time period,” Covey said.
The pretrial services board—which includes Covey as a nonvoting member—met the morning of the Aug. 23 commissioners court meeting to discuss the report of the shortage prepared by Covey’s office.
Covey had previously assigned her executive assistant, Rachel Arnold, to observe and report on short-staffing in magistration in pretrial services.
“Currently, there are only two full-time employees covering all seven days [in magistration] and a third part-time position that is able to assist, but the amount of work is at the point where these folks get comp time but don't get to take it,” Arnold told the commissioners.
The funding is set aside for the next fiscal year that runs Oct. 1, 2022-Sept. 30, 2023. Williamson County offers pretrial services at the Williamson County Justice Center at 405 Martin Luther King Jr. St., Georgetown.
Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify members of the pretrial services board.