ALFRED — With 34 corrections vacancies at the York County Jail, 14 more than in November, York County officials are looking to extend a boarding agreement that allowed them to transfer some inmates to the Cumberland County Jail.

The initial four-month agreement forged in November allowed the York County Jail to transfer 30 to 35 inmates to Cumberland County and close one housing unit.

York County Sheriff William L. King Jr. said that area law enforcement agencies have been recruiting corrections officers to fill their own vacancies.

On Wednesday, Jail Administrator Michael Vitiello told the York County commissioners that the county has had a lot of applications, but the effort has produced fewer hires than expected.

“We’re not where we thought we might be, based on (applications),” said Vitiello, who echoed King’s assertion that current corrections staff members are being recruited to work for municipal police departments.

The 34 vacancies are thought to be among the highest ever for the facility. And while 34 positions out of 76 budgeted are vacant, there are also 30 to 35 fewer inmates at the facility because of the boarding agreement.

The cost to board inmates at the Cumberland County Jail was set at $65 per inmate per day, which works out to about $58,000 per month for 30 inmates.

Vitiello said he was looking to extend the agreement through August, and planned to come back to commissioners in June to bring them up to date on hiring progress.

“We anticipate the boarding rate to be the same,” Vitiello told the board.

Commissioner Allen Sicard suggested extending the contract with Cumberland County through the end of December, with an “out clause” of 90 days, rather than finding out that an August date might not be enough.

The shortage of corrections staff has meant existing personnel can be ordered to work up to 56 hours per week. They can volunteer to work more hours if they like, and are allowed to work a maximum of 72 hours weekly, according to the contract between the county government and the National Correctional Employees Union.

King on Thursday said there has been some mandated overtime, but that the jail has not declared a staffing emergency.

The worker shortage in November was attributed to the low unemployment rate at the time, around 2.5 percent, and the number of jobs readily available in York County. York County’s unemployment rate remained low, at 2.9 percent, in December, the latest figure available on the state’s website.

The York County Jail began offering a $1,500 bonus to new hires in October. Starting pay for a new corrections officer is $16.80 per hour, with a $1-an-hour increase after the first year.

Those hired are trained at county expense and earn a salary during the training period.

Commissioners on Wednesday voted unanimously to seek to extend the contract with Cumberland County through the end of 2019, with a 90-day “out” clause.

Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or at:

[email protected]

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