by Jack Mayne
The Des Moines City Council elected Councilmember Matt Pina as Mayor and Councilmember Vic Pennington as Mayor Pro-tem for terms ending in 2017.
The Council on Thursday night (Jan. 7) also watched newly-elected Councilmembers Rob Back and Luisa Bangs and re-elected Councilmember Jeremy Nutting get sworn into their four-year terms.
‘Huge’ court cost increase
The Council unanimously approved an agreement with the two people who provide legal defense services for the city’s Municipal Court.
Councilmember Dave Kaplan said the increase was huge, but that to avoid additional costs because of court decision requiring adequate public defense and there could be lawsuits for not providing adequate defense.
“I think our (two) public defenders have done a good job with difficult resource restraints,” Kaplan said, but noting “it is a huge increase in terms of dollars.”
The annual contract for the services of two will increase from $81,600 to $180,000 but the contract provides some consolidation of other costs into the base costs.
The city budget for the defenders was $126,700 in 2015.
City Manager Tony Piasecki’s report to the Council said that although “the increase in compensation is significant, it is the first increase to compensation, other than the additional $800 per month for video court authorized in July 2015” since 2011.
As a comparison, Piasecki noted the City Prosecutor’s base pay for 2016 is $73,008.
Kaplan said it was one of those expenses that are driven by state legislation or by court decisions over which the city has no fiscal control.