One Orange County department won’t be filling a vacant position in order to save the county some money.

A criminal investigator position (an E-1 on the pay matrix) in the district attorney’s office will be dissolved after a criminal investigator left the office, according to Douglas Manning, assistant district attorney. The remaining criminal investigator will be reclassified from an E-1 to an E-3 after the motion was approved at the Monday afternoon meeting of the Orange County Commissioners’ Court.

The vote tally was 3 to 2 with County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, Precinct 1 Commissioner David Dubose and Precinct 3 Commissioner John Banken voting aye and Precinct 2 Commissioner Owen Burton and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jody Crump voting nay.

Manning explained to the court the E1 position as a junior criminal investigator position that pays $37,000 a year with no overtime pay. The DA’s office couldn’t find anyone in law enforcement to take the position since patrol officers are paid more in annual salary and they are also paid overtime.

It was then decided and proposed to eliminate the position and reclassify the chief investigator from E-1 to E-3.

Manning said the chief investigator, K.C. Breshears, will be the sole investigator for the office. The balance from the salary and benefits package of the criminal investigator who left will be refunded back to the county. It is estimated the amount will be $81,600 per year.

“He (Breshears) will have added responsibility,” Manning said. “When I began working in the office in 1997, we had four investigators. Now we have one.”

The top pay for an E-1position is $53,000. The pay scale for an E-2 begins at $43,326 per year and tops out at $64,168, according to the county’s pay matrix.

The pay scale for an E-3 begins at $56,638 and tops out at $73,690.

Crump asked Manning who will fill in for Breshears when he’s on vacation or out of the office for an extended amount of time.

Manning said James Arceneaux, and investigator with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, can assist the Orange County office when needed at no additional cost to the county.

Crump said it was difficult to justify a 37.5 percent increase in payroll. Manning answered it will be a $20,000 increase to fill a vacancy.

In addition to investigating crimes, Breshears also serves as a liaison to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, Manning said.

“You can spend it one way or another,” he said.

Crump said he was concerned if a precedent was being set for other county departments in dissolving the position and reclassifying current employee positions.

Manning said it’s an economic decision and the county must analyze who to pay.

Crump then suggested the position be cut from an E-3 to an E-2 position.

Manning said on a legal basis the DA’s office must object to that proposal due to the possibility the office may need a second investigator a month later and word will spread the county is not going to fill that position.

“You’ve asked us to cut the workforce and that’s what we have done,” Manning said.

Crump said a move from E-1 to E-2 is not as large of an increase as from E-1 to E-3.

Manning said if Breshears would theoretically leave tomorrow, the DA’s office would have to pay someone more to take the position, a position that doesn’t pay overtime as other law enforcement agencies.

Thibodeaux said he would like to go with the E-2 position and change the reclassification of the chief investigator.

Banken asked Manning how an E-2 position would affect the DA’s office. Manning said he hasn’t looked into the matter.

The commissioners then voted to approve the item.

In other county business, Jill Shores personnel director for the county, reported to the court her department reported the retirement of three from the sheriff’s office, one from adult probation and one from the district attorney’s office for January, and one from the veterans’ service office, one from the district attorney’s office and one from transportation.

They were five new hires in the sheriff’s office, on for adult probation, one for transportation and one for the district attorney’s office for the months of January and February.