City council votes to adjust victim advocate budget

The Big Timber City Council voted Jan. 3 to lower the amount of money owed to Sweet Grass County for the cost of employing an inter-local victim witness advocate. 

The city council budgeted $5,000 in July to help the county offset the cost of hiring a full-time advocate, but reduced the amount to $2,500 on Jan. 2 in light of recent changes to Montana state law. 

Creation of the victim witness advocate position was spurred by the passage of “Marsy’s Law” in November 2016. The law expanded rights for victims and victims’ families, assuring them greater support and up-to-date information throughout the judicial process. 

When the law took effect July 1, 2017, the city council pledged $5,000 to assist the county in meeting the new mandate. 

However, with the repeal of Marsy’s Law in November 2017, the city is no longer responsible for funding, according to Ken Rockeman, city council member for Big Timber. The council agreed to pay $2,500 for the time the law was on the books (close to six months), while the other $2,500 is returned to the city’s general fund, Rockeman said. 

The county, which already funds 90 percent of the position’s $53,760 budget, will absorb the cost if the position is to remain full-time, said Pat Dringman, attorney for Sweet Grass County. 

For more of this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Big Timber Pioneer on newsstands now, or subscribe online at

By CHRIS AIKEN/ Pioneer reporter



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