McCracken: Clearfield County’s Budget Cuts to Remain in Effect Until Jail Population Drops

CLEARFIELD – Budget woes don’t appear to be going away for Clearfield County.

On Tuesday Commissioner Mark McCracken reported the jail’s population had dropped last month. But as of Monday, it had jumped back up to 177 inmates with another five in out-of-county housing.

He said as long as inmate numbers are up, there will not be any funding taken away from jail operations and put back into the county’s general fund.

He said per discussion at past prison board meetings, the board and court have hopes to find ways to decrease the jail population to around 150 inmates.

However, McCracken said personally, he’d like to see a regular population closer to 135 inmates. Until there’s a significant drop over an extended period, budget and staffing cuts will remain in effect.

He also said the commissioners will issue regular updates on the jail population numbers at their meetings.

According to a previously-published GANT News report, the commissioners approved its final budget last month with a 2-mill tax increase despite making staffing and budget cuts.

The budget currently allocates an additional $500,000 in funds for operations at the Clearfield County Jail, along with a $700,000 increase in funds for the courts and court-related departments, including Children, Youth and Family Services.

“The majority of the increased costs are the result of an increase in criminal activity throughout the county and inmate over-population at the Clearfield County Jail,” the commissioners said in a previously-released statement.

“This has been a very difficult budget to finalize and (it) required significant cuts and cooperation from the courts and elected row officers.”

“Unfortunately, the increased costs driven by crime is something the commissioners have no control over but must deal with. It is unfair to the taxpayers and some of our employees are also suffering as a result.

In order to balance the budget, five employees were cut. The county also cut five positions, which are presently vacant, according to the report.

Positions, which were cut, include a part-time clerk and a part-time field assessor in the tax assessment office; a part-time clerk in the tax claim office; a full-time clerk and two part-time deputies in the sheriff’s office; a full-time clerk in the register and recorder’s office; a full-time planning assistant in the planning office; a full-time secretary in the veteran’s affairs office; a full-time clerk in the prothonotary’s office; and three part-time temporary doe license workers in the treasurer’s office. All cuts were effective as of Dec. 31.

The commissioners estimate that eliminating these positions has saved about $249,792.

The budget included the following cuts to external appropriations: $60,000 from the Clearfield County Economic Development Corp./Clearly Ahead Development; $15,000 for the Clearfield County Cooperative Extension; $10,000 from the Clearfield County Conservation District; $10,000 from the Clearfield County Library Association and $2,500 to the Clearfield County Historical Society.

The budget also eliminated the Black Fly Program’s $5,800 and the $1,250 from the Headwaters program.

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