Governor proposes pay hike for assistant prosecutors

Published 11:53 am Friday, December 14, 2012

RICHMOND–Isle of Wight Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer favors a proposal to increase pay for assistant commonwealth’s attorneys, yet somewhat doubts it will happen.

“I would be surprised if we saw it come to fruition just given the current budgetary conditions,” Farmer said Friday.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed increasing pay for assistant commonwealth’s attorneys by $3,300 annually for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years for a total of $6,600.

Current starting salaries for assistant commonwealth’s attorneys are more than $45,300. Once this proposal is fully phased in, starting salaries would equal nearly $52,000.

Isle of Wight County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Edwards is paid $67,872 annually. He has been with the office for four years and previously served in the commonwealth’s attorney office in Southampton County.

“I know how hard my assistant commonwealth’s attorney works and the hours he puts in,” Farmer said. “It’s becoming more and more difficult for commonwealth’s attorney offices to compete with the private sector.”

As a result, the turnover is high. Isle of Wight County is the exception — it has an assistant and deputy commonwealth attorneys with “a great deal of experience who do an excellent job,” Farmer said.

“But they certainly don’t do it for the money,” he said. “It’s like a lot of jobs in public service. They do it because they love their work and are making a difference.”

He likes that the state is willing to fund raises instead of relying on or mandating counties.

“In the past the state had relied more and more on localities, and we know localities are cash-strapped like everybody else,” he said.