Victim/Witness Office Asked to “Live Within its Means”

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners asked its Victim/Witness office to “live within its means” after discussing the financial constraints that have been inflicted upon it by the state and federal governments. The office’s grant modifications were tabled until next week.

The commissioners had requested that Victim/Witness Director Margie Rosselli attend their work session Tuesday morning to publicly discuss the office’s financial struggles. The Victims of Crime Act grant, according to her, is expected to be cut by 9 percent.

She said this reduces the Victim/Witness office’s funding by $11,000. Subsequently, it forced program cuts reducing its shortfall to $3,407.  Last week, she noted the state’s Victims of Juvenile Crime Act (VOJA) grant doesn’t exist. She said the VOJA grant required a 20 percent match, and that is no longer the case, freeing up the matching funds, according to a prior report.

Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen said this year, the county had budgeted $66,586 for the Victim/Witness office. However, it’s only received approximately $12,000; it has spent approximately $18,000.

“When are we going to get paid? Their (payments) are not in line with us,” said Robinson-McMillen. The commissioners sought for Rosselli to provide a budget spreadsheet next week that lists the Victim/Witness office’s revenues and expenditures.

“It would be helpful to all of us, I think, if we could see what’s coming in and what’s going out,” said Commissioner Mark B. McCracken. “We need to see they’re equal without a deficit.”

Robinson-McMillen told Rosselli that no one wants to see the programs go away. Instead, she said they want the office to “live within its means.”

In addition, she pointed out there’s an $18,000 deficit for the Rights and Services Act (RASA) grant due the state’s failure to make payments.

“If the state and federal government paid on time, we’d be swimming,” she said. Moving forward and starting next year, she wants the Victim/Witness office only to spend what it receives for its programs.

Rosselli said she wasn’t sure what to do as far as making additional budget cuts. She said other Victim/Witness offices have been faced with the same dilemma.

“It’s bad everywhere. They’re calling us and asking us what to do,” she said. Commissioner Chairman John A. Sobel said the commissioners are pleased with the Victim/Witness staff and said it’s difficult times for her office and all county government.

“We have to be careful because we don’t want the taxpayers making up the shortfall,” he said. “. . . We’re willing to work with you, but we don’t want to set your office up for failure.”

Solicitor Kim Kesner said for him, it appeared the state was withdrawing funding while also inflicting debt. Robinson-McMillen concurred, asking at what point are the counties going to say “enough is enough.”

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