CLEARFIELD – Finances were once again a topic of the Clearfield County Prison Board meeting Thursday when board member and County Commissioner Mark McCracken first noted that certain line items are roughly $470,000 over budget.
McCracken noted that the commissioners understand that for the last two budget cycles they failed to seriously look at the jail line items that were rising.
This year, an additional $507,000 is built into the 2019 budget, which is also about 75 percent of the tax increase built into the budget. “It’s impacting the budget across the board,” he noted.
The items that have created the biggest burden are out-of-county housing, medical, overtime and food services, and these are all related to the increased number of inmates at the jail.
Board member and County Controller Tom Adamson asked if there has been any discussion by the personnel committee regarding changing the requirements for the work release program.
He said he understands that Jefferson County regularly has around 14 inmates on the program per month while Clearfield County usually has around two or three.
“We owe it to the taxpayers,” he said about looking into changing the county guidelines, especially in regards to how drug testing is done, which was discussed during last month’s meeting.
Commissioner John Sobel, who chaired the meeting in the absence of President Judge Frederic Ammerman, said he would contact Ammerman and set up a committee meeting, agreeing that the matter needed to be looked into.
The board has discussed other reasons for few participants in the program, including the number of inmates that do not have jobs when incarcerated.
November began with three participants in work release with one added and then all four paroled.
Overall the month began with 166 inmates with 96 committed, 100 released and ending with 158. Currently there are about 160 inmates with none housed in Jefferson County.
Warden Greg Collins also noted that one thing that has helped with costs was the decision of the board last year to switch to a different pharmacy for inmate prescriptions.
Even though the cost is high, with November alone seeing a cost of $18,040.29, with the previous pharmacy, it would have been about twice the cost.