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Probation, other crime programs seek budget increase from Franklin County

December 04, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Probation Department is asking for more personnel as it assumes more duties and prepares to move into new offices next year.

Chief Probation Officer Richard Mertz Thursday asked the Franklin County Commissioners for four more full-time probation officers and four part-time support positions for 1999. If granted, the new positions would bring to 55 the number of employees for the various probation programs, he said.

Mertz said he wants officers to handle the caseload for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, a program for first-time offenders. He said another is needed to handle pre-sentence reports and Court Reporting Network reports.

Two officers are requested for the work release program for county prison inmates. The program is being taken over from the prison in the coming year.

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Mertz asked for two part-time drivers to take work release inmates to and from jobs. The prisoners would be charged for the service, he told commissioners.

Mertz also wants two part-time receptionists for headquarters, which is moving from Franklin Farm Lane to the former Pennsylvania State Police barracks on Walker Road.

That would free up clerical personnel to prepare reports rather than answering phones and inquiries from the 150 or more people who come to the Probation Department on some days, he said.

Fiscal Department Director Jerry Frey said the requests would raise the Probation Department budget from $1.73 million this year to about $2.1 million in 1999.

The 1999 budget projections for the department include $551,000 in charges and fees for offenders and another $510,000 in state and federal grants, Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

"We're getting a lot better at getting money from the state and federal government," he said. The commissioners predict real estate taxes will not increase next year.

The preliminary 1999 budget is to be approved on Tuesday. Frey predicted it will be about $55 million, but only $10 million will come from real estate taxes.

The rest will come from state and federal subsidies and fees for services, Elliott said.

District Attorney John F. Nelson requested another part-time assistant district attorney to help manage the sexual assault and domestic violence caseload. The office now has three full-time and three part-time assistants.

Nelson's requests would increase his budget by about 3 percent to $447,000.

Public Defender Robert J. Trambley asked for a part-time contract attorney to help with support cases next year. He wants to increase his budget by about $25,000 to $365,000 next year.

Nelson and Trambley both said they went over budget on professional services because of the expert witnesses needed for the Albert Reid murder trial in September. Reid was sentenced to death for the murders of his estranged wife and stepdaughter.

Nelson said his office might have four murder trials in January.

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