OSSIPEE – Carroll County attorneys with law school debt may claim a refund from the county, according to a decision by the legislative delegation. But it’s not a done deal until the county budget is finalized.
During budget talks on February 11, the local delegation of state officials met with Carroll County lawyer Michaela Andruzzi (D-Wolfeboro).
Andruzzi introduced a policy in which qualified employees with graduate degrees could be eligible for a student loan repayment of $ 1,500. The policy is intended to help the office retain its prosecutors.
Andruzzi told The Sun on Monday that a new lawyer could have up to $ 200,000 in law school debt. An attorney should be in the county attorney’s office for at least 11 months before seeking reimbursement of $ 1,500.
Last Thursday, Andruzzi told lawmakers: “People are not staying in prosecution. When I started in the 90s, people were pulling out of lawsuits, it was a career. It is no longer considered a career.
“When we have leave from the county attorney, it costs on average 200% of their salary to replace him (an attorney),” Andruzzi said, adding: “It takes at least a year for the new person to reach a full time workload.
His office currently has a deputy county attorney, three deputy county attorneys, and a domestic violence attorney.
The starting salary for an attorney in his office is $ 62,500. She said the deputy county attorney was the highest paid, at around $ 85,000.
The advantage of making the refund over increasing the minimum wage is that, as a refund, the county does not have to pay pensions or taxes on that money.
The commissioners accepted the proposal to repay the student loan.
Rep. Anita Burroughs (D-Bartlett) and Rep. Tom Buco (D-Conway) supported him and recalled how much the former county lawyers have seen a lot of turnover.
“The county attorney we have here today has built this department from the ground up into a professional organization that has a reputation for being professional and able to handle the caseload generated by the county,” Buco said.
Representative Karen Umberger (R-Conway) said such a benefit should be offered county-wide or not at all.
“I’m sure other people within the county complex there are a ton of student loans so it bothers me to some extent that we highlight a particular office for this benefit not provided to other people who work in the county, ”she said.
Andruzzi said she believed other county employees were receiving reimbursements for education that benefited the county.
County human resources director Chris Heroux said most, if not all, departments in the county have funds allocated in their budgets for education and conferences.
“One department head may determine that graduate reimbursement is the best way to get the most qualified people for the county, while another may apply for funds for professional certifications or periodic training, to maintain its staff up to date with progress in their fields, ”said Héroux.
“Training and conferences are one of the most important post-hire employee engagement opportunities to maintain and retain an educated and professional workforce,” said Heroux.
Ultimately, the delegation voted 12-1 (Umberger in minority) to approve the county attorney’s main budget of $ 733,272, including reimbursement money.
Along with Burroughs and Buco, President Lino Avellani (R-Wakefield), Brodie Deshaies (R-Wolfeboro), Jerry Knirk (D-Freedom), John MacDonald (R-Wolfeboro), Chris McAleer (D-Jackson) voted in his favor. , Bill Marsh (R-Brookfield), Mark McConkey (R-Freedom), Bill Nelson (R-Brookfield) and Steve Woodcock (D-Conway).
The delegation also approved $ 130,628 for the domestic violence unit at the county attorney’s office and $ 93,347 for the victim witness program.
Two years ago, Andruzzi convinced the delegation to provide a clothing allowance of $ 500 for herself and her four prosecutors. She also convinced them to approve a second victim witness coordinator.
Assistant counsel were funded to receive increases of $ 2,000. In May 2019, Andruzzi filled a prosecutor’s post that had been vacant for almost six months with the hiring of Thomas Palermo.
Even with the delegation’s vote, Andruzzi says the loan repayment program is not concluded until the county budget is completed.
“Last year there were changes until the last vote,” Andruzzi said in a text.