CLEARFIELD – Staffing at the Clearfield County Jail topped the agenda of Tuesday’s Clearfield County Salary Board meeting.
The board voted, 3-1, to approve the creation of five full-time corrections officer positions at the jail, effective Feb. 11. The shifts will be determined by the commissioners.
Commissioners Tony Scotto, chairman, John A. Sobel and Dave Glass voted in favor. Controller Tom Adamson cast the only dissenting vote.
The reasoning, Scotto said, is to alleviate the ongoing overtime issue and for security purposes. He said the county is looking to limit excessive overtime so the COs can function properly.
It was also noted by both Scotto and Glass that the commissioners had budgeted for the creation of the five, new CO positions.
Adamson said he felt it was “overkill” because it’s going to result in an increase of $353,000 in salaries and benefits. “And it’s not even going to help the main problem.”
He said the main problems facing the jail are the costs associated with housing inmates in Jefferson County, medical care, etc.
Scotto said inmate numbers have gone down as of late, only eight inmates are currently housed in Jefferson County and it’s possible the county may not have any there in a month or so.
“We have COs serving 120 hours of overtime, and we had an attempted escape,” he said, adding it’s jeopardizing the safety of the jail, COs and inmates. “That’s my concern.”
Glass said the overtime issue bothers him as well, because it makes the COs prone to fatigue in a stressful work environment, even on a good day. “And that’s when mistakes happen.
“That’s the reason people working in critical, safety operations have time limits on their jobs. A CO is a safety, critical operation, and I’m not comfortable … with the overtime.”
Glass said it wasn’t so much the overtime costs to the county, but was more about the liability. He said he was “much more comfortable” with having a solid staff to manage the time.
However, Adamson felt that if certain COs were working too much overtime, it was a staffing problem and the jail’s management was at fault.
To that, Glass said the commissioners had been notified that the jail didn’t have an adequate number of COs to properly staff the jail.
“If we do this, it’s managed properly and overtime goes down, then that’s great,” he said. “But if not, I agree 100 percent. After this, it’s completely on the management. This will eliminate all the excuses … and we’ll be watching very carefully.”
Adamson asked why management wasn’t present at the salary board meeting. He said he’s attended a lot of Clearfield County Prison Board meetings, and he hasn’t heard any issues about staffing and management.
He said it wasn’t brought up until the last board meeting by former Commissioner Mark B. McCracken, who thought this was the “fix” to eliminate overtime, “but I don’t think this is the fix.
“… The main thing is sending people to Jefferson County, the medical bills and the doctor bills. This isn’t going to alleviate that, and is basically adding $350,000 more to the deficit at the jail.”
Scotto and Glass noted that the board was merely voting to create the positions, and just giving the county the option to fill them. Glass added the commissioners will absolutely discuss how these positions will be filled with the warden
In other business, the board:
- approved the creation of a part-time fiscal operations officer with Children & Youth Services at $20/hour, not to exceed 1,000 hours per year, effective Feb. 14.
- approved the collapse of the existing full-time position of fiscal operations officer/Children & Youth Services, effective Feb. 11.
- approved the minutes from the Jan. 14 meeting.