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Budget requests in Frankin dominated by personnel needs

November 11, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Prison warden wants six new officers, the sheriff wants three deputies and the coroner is asking for a three-body refrigerator.

Those were among the requests heard Wednesday by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners during 14 hearings on the 2000 budget. Another round of 16 hearings is set for Friday, Nov. 19.

Department heads requested 19 full- and part-time positions.

"Last year the trend was definitely for increases in technology" as departments prepared to become Y2K compliant, County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said. "This year the trend certainly seems ... personnel-related."

Warden Raymond Rosenberry said he needs more corrections officers to bring the prison into compliance with state regulations requiring at least one officer on duty for every 15 inmates. The prison now has 54 corrections officers.

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Rosenberry said the prison population has been edging upward. There were 282 inmates Wednesday morning, but the courts sentenced another 13 that day.

He also requested two more counselors and a third full-time nurse. Rosenberry said his personnel requests were the first in three or four years.

"We're getting older commitments and we're getting more with drug and alcohol and mental health problems," Rosenberry said. The prison has just one counselor to handle referrals now.

The additional personnel would cost $245,000 in pay and benefits. Along with $28,000 in capital requests, that would raise the prison budget to $3.8 million.

Sheriff Robert Wollyung asked for one full-time and two part-time deputies costing $52,800. Wollyung said he made the same request for 1999 and got one part-time officer.

Wollyung's capital requests totaled $28,000, including a second walk-through metal detector and replacement of a van. He said that over two years his 13 deputies have seen a 40-percent increase in prisoner transports, serving of writs and warrants and other duties.

Franklin County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner, elected coroner last week, doesn't want any new personnel, but his wish list included $4,000 for a body refrigerator.

Conner said bodies awaiting autopsies now are kept either at the two-body Chambersburg Hospital morgue, or at a Waynesboro, Pa., funeral home, but space is limited.

Asked where the new refrigerator would be kept, Conner said he did not yet know.

Controller Carol Fix Diller asked for an administrative assistant and an auditor. The latter may be mandatory because of a state law requiring municipal tax collectors to be audited. The 911 Center requested $25,200 for a compliance and training officer, another new mandate.

"Unfunded mandates are costing local governments a lot of money," said Commissioner Bob Thomas.

The Agriculture Extension Office is asking $55,000 for a part-time agricultural economic development agent, a part-time secretary and retention of a "family living agent," whose full-time position had been funded by Penn State University.

The Assessment Office is asking $24,000 for an assistant appraiser.

Elliott said the requests heard Wednesday were reasonable but "larger than I anticipated."

Scheduled for budget hearings next week are some of the county's largest operations, including the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the courts system.

Elliott said he cannot guarantee real estate taxes will remain level when a preliminary budget is unveiled on Dec. 9.

"We'll continue to be the lowest or among the lowest in Pennsylvania," he predicted.

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