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Prosecutor in Ripley County quits, citing budget problems
DONIPHAN, Mo. -- Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Monte Phillips resigned Wednesday citing an insufficient budget for his office as hampering his ability to fulfill his duties. He was elected in November 2010.
Phillips, who emailed his resignation to the county commission, will leave office June 15, which is the last day Edward Thompson will serve as assistant prosecuting attorney.
Phillips' replacement will be named by Gov. Jay Nixon, said Ripley County Clerk Becky York. The appointee will serve until Dec. 31, 2014.
"The Ripley County Commission has provided all the resources we can afford to the current prosecuting attorney," Presiding Commissioner Bill Kennon said. "His budget is greater than any prosecuting attorney we have had in the last 21 years that I have been involved with the county and is probably greater than any in the history of the county. Ripley County's resources do not allow for us to increase any elected official's budget to include everything they wish to have."
In 2010, Phillips received $91,157 to run his office. This included his salary, as well as the salary for the assistant prosecutor, clerical wages, office expenses, equipment, mileage and other expenses.
In 2011, he was given $88,580 but only used $77,676,
In the May 30 commissioners meeting, Ripley County Western District Commissioner Jerry Halley said the amount saved would have been refunded to Phillips in the event "the job were done right. However, no one felt like you did your job last year. It's not just happened in the last six months, last year is just like this year. Everyone is asking, 'Where's our prosecutor at?' No one ever sees you in court. When cases are filed, most of them are dismissed."
Phillips replied, "For the last 14 months I have been in office I have worked 70-hour weeks. I have appeared in court in Butler County on Wednesday and we also have appearances in West Plains, Van Buren, etc. As for how many cases have been dismissed, that is absurd. Out of all the cases filed, maybe 10 percent are dismissed."
For 2012, he requested $135,055 but was going to receive $86,405 to run his office. Phillips' salary as county prosecutor was $45,580.
A week ago, Phillips had threatened to sue the county if his budget was not increased. He later said he would either sue or resign.
Phillips plans to continue with his private practice specializing in Social Security and veterans disability law. Thompson is accepting a position as an assistant prosecutor in Butler County.
Prospect-News staff writer Tiffany Walters contributed to this report.