Salary increases approved for Stutsman County State's Attorney's Office
Assistant State’s Attorney Megan Carmichael recently submitted her resignation.
JAMESTOWN – The Stutsman County Commission approved salary increases for employees in the state’s attorney’s office effective June 1.
Approval was made in a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Steve Cichos was not present at the special meeting on Tuesday, May 23.
The chief assistant state’s attorney position was added to the pay scale. The Stutsman County State's Attorney's Office has not had an assistant chief state's attorney for a while.
“We started this downward walk a while ago," Stutsman County State’s Attorney Fritz Fremgen said. "In a natural progression, we couldn't fill chief assistant state's attorney slot, so we got rid of it."
Other personnel affected by the grade and salary increases include assistant state’s attorney I and II and the state’s attorney.
On June 1, the starting yearly salary will range from $100,100 to $104,150 for a state’s attorney, $94,000 to $97,850 for an assistant chief state’s attorney, $88,300 to $91,900 for a state’s attorney II and $82,900 to $86,300.
Assistant State’s Attorney Megan Carmichael recently submitted her resignation. Fremgen said her last day is anticipated to be June 23.
Fremgen said Carmichael told him that she would stay for $90,000 per year. If she leaves, Fremgen would be the only attorney in the office.
With the commission’s approval on Tuesday, Carmichael’s salary will increase to $91,900 on June 1 if she stays in her position. She would have been eligible for a salary increase in June because she would then have two years of experience working in the Stutsman County State’s Attorney’s Office. Carmichael was set to get a salary increase to $83,000 per year once she got two years of experience in the county, said Shannon Davis, human resource director.
Fremgen recommended an increase in salary for state’s attorney I to $100,000 for Stutsman County to compete with other state's attorney's offices and private law firms. He also recommended an increase in salary for the state’s attorney position.
“I don’t do that for me,” he said, referring to a salary increase for his position. “I do it because it sends a message that if an assistant wants to take a job here, they’ve got a place to go, one.” He said the salary increase for the state’s attorney will dispel the message that the county will pay the assistant state’s attorney under market value for as long as it can. He also said there is a supply and demand for attorneys because fewer people are becoming attorneys.
Fremgen said he’s unable to hire and retain attorneys with the current pay structure. He said the county advertises for an assistant state’s attorney with pay depending on experience but potential applicants want an actual figure of what the yearly salary would be.
Fremgen said increasing the starting salary to $79,000 for an assistant state’s attorney I won’t get any applicants. He said his office has received zero applications since January 2022 for the state’s attorney I position at the first of three steps in the pay scale.
He said he has to prioritize criminal cases because of the staff shortage in his office.
Southeast District Court Judge Daniel Narum said Tuesday it is necessary to have multiple state’s attorneys available within multiple courtrooms to keep cases on track.