Budget puts bite on Douglas County attorney’s officeLast week, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Holets left the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office for a similar position in St. Louis County, in a state where public employees aren’t the No. 1 target of budget cuts.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The budget battle raging in Madison is already taking a local toll. Last week, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Holets left the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office for a similar position in St. Louis County, in a state where public employees aren’t the No. 1 target of budget cuts.
Holets now works for the criminal division of the St. Louis County
Attorney’s Office. He left the Wisconsin position after only eight months because Minnesota offers a better opportunity.
“It’s a selfish personal decision, I guess,” Holets said. “There’s more room for growth; you get raises over there; it’s easier to make that a career-track position because of the way the state of Minnesota views this position versus the state of Wisconsin.”
He praised everyone he worked with in Douglas County.
“I like this office a lot, I really do. The people here are top-notch,” Holets said. He was torn about applying for the Minnesota position, but the state of Wisconsin made his decision easy.
The wheels of justice may grind more slowly in Douglas County until a new attorney is hired.
“I think the quality of the work is going to continue,” said District Attorney Dan Blank. “We’re not going to sacrifice our effort and our attitude and our support of victims in the community. It just feels like we’re fighting an uphill battle at times.”
Pay for assistant district attorneys in Wisconsin has been frozen at $48,000 for years, and furlough days have been imposed. Even if the proposed budget reinstitutes cost-of-living increases, public employees will see a net pay loss because of increases in health-care premiums and pension costs. The loss of collective bargaining rights would be another blow.
An experienced prosecutor from another county had applied for the position before the budget bills were unveiled. Blank contacted him recently, and he said he is no longer interested in relocating to Douglas County because the status of state employment is so unstable.